Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper is a weekly tool that provides daily devotions that correspond to Pastor Kevin’s sermon each week.

Joshua: “Winning Prayer”

Joshua • “Winning Prayer”

Joshua 10

November 20-25, 2017

 
The largest recorded hailstone in the U.S. was nearly as big as a volleyball and fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian,

South Dakota

. It was 8 inches in diameter and weighed almost 2 pounds. It fell to earth at the rate of 32 feet/second/second reduced somewhat by friction and collision with other hailstones. However, by some estimates, it is possible for a hailstone to reach terminal velocity of up to 171MPH.

 

When our boys were eight and five, they shared a bedroom on the south side of our two-story house. One evening we got one of those once-in-a-lifetime hailstorms. It ruined the roof, siding, fences, trees, cars and completely knocked out all the glass windows in their room. Scared them as much as it did me. Hail is serious business.

 

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious

. These are words that describe something happening that is not normal; something that is beyond the realm of earthly means.

 

On Friday, November 10, Maple Grove High School in Minnesota found themselves down 19 points with one minute to play. A couple of long touchdown passes with some onside kicks and the miracle happened…they ran in the final touchdown.[i]

 

 

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. So how do these words compare to your prayer life? Do they at all?

What is the most impossible thing that you’ve asked God for in prayer?

 

 

Have you ever come before God asking for something audacious?

 

Preacher Hallock ( E. F. Hallock) who was pastor of First Baptist Church, Norman, OK for many years had a son, Edgar. Pastor Hallock wrote a book that is now out of print called

Always in Prayer

in which he tells stories about praying exciting and audacious prayers. One Christmas, Edgar began praying for a black and white puppy. His Dad kept telling him that there wasn’t going to be a dog, period. It didn’t deter Edgar. He just kept on praying for the black and white puppy.

 

On Christmas Eve the doorbell to the Hallock house rang and a neighbor had a little black and white puppy in arms. He said,

“Preacher, we have been unexpectedly transferred and have to leave in the morning. We cannot take our puppy with us and I know you are such good people, please give our baby a new home?”

Edgar got his puppy.

 

Years later when Edgar was a missionary in South America, he needed printing equipment worth more than $1,000,000 in today’s money for their Bible curriculum printing ministry. You won’t be surprised that God answered that prayer also. He got the presses.

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious

.

 

If you can find a copy of that little book, I encourage you to get it today.

 

Back to our story, I asked you the questions I asked you the questions about being

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. because this week in Joshua you will discover that one of the keys to conquering the Promised Land was an outlandish, impossible, extraordinary, and audacious prayer by Joshua. Let’s discover what praying Winning Prayers

looked like in the life and times of Joshua.

 

Last week we learned that the people of Gibeon deceived Israel into making a covenant with them. Chapter 10 describes Gibeon as a great city with mighty warriors, so if fighting Israel was not difficult enough, five kings now had decided to attach Gibeon. In the first few verses of Joshua 10 a coalition of these kings became fearful because they heard of Israel’s peace treaty with Gibeon.

 

MONDAY: The Next Opportunity For Israel To Win God’s Way.

The coalition of Kings decided to isolate and attack Gibeon but news traveled fast in the land of Canaan and the people of Gibeon called on Joshua to come to their aid. It’s at this point that we pick up the story Joshua 10…

7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Joshua 10:7-11

 

Entering battle was never something that took place without a measure of fearfulness, so the Lord drew near to Joshua with soothing words of reassurance,

“Do not fear them…” Who was ‘them’? The coalition of Kings and their armies. Yes, there were a bunch of them and greatly fortified for battle, nevertheless, don’t be afraid “for I have given them into your hand. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”

These words should have sounded familiar to Joshua and they should sound familiar to you:

5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:5,

 

The Lord comforted Joshua NOT with a new promise but with an old promise applied to a new challenge. As a child of God, isn’t it so easy to become wrapped around the axle by searching for some new truth or revelation to help you in times of difficulty when what you really need is to find peace in the old promises and to trust them. When God makes a promise, it doesn’t change when circumstances change. Joshua was no different from you. You need to be reminded of the promises of God to help in your struggles.

Howsomever

, I bet you will notice how the Lord will take an old promise and apply it appropriately to your specific situations. Here’s a real life illustration from Pastor Kevin and Marcy.

In Marcy’s battle with cancer, which began in 2010, it was not a new truth that God used to encourage us, but rather an old promise that we had read many times before, but it’s application took on new meaning for us in the new trial we are facing. As we sat in the patient room waiting for her lumpectomy surgery to take place, we were reading our Bibles when Marcy read these words:

 

1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

. Isaiah 43:1-3

 

We did not need a new truth, but an old time honored promise applied to the new trials and we still cling fiercely to that promise today. Joshua did NOT need a new promise but needed to be reassured by an old promise.

 

Encouraged by the reassurance of the promise of the Lord, Joshua and the army marched all night and launched a surprise attack on the coalition. Did you notice how the Lord caused the armies to panic and flee from Israel, but the Lord wanted them to know He was in charge, so He also stirred up a monster hailstorm that rained down destruction on the armies, but hitting ONLY the enemy armies. Think about the sovereignty of the Lord in that. The Lord sovereignly stored up hail for such events.

22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?

Job 38:22-23
 

 

TUESDAY: Time Out for Prayer.

As the battle raged on and the hailstones continued to fall, Joshua did something very interesting. In fact, what he did might be the last thing anyone of you might think to do while war is raging around you.

12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. 15 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Joshua 10:12-15

 

What does he do? While swords are being wielded and spears being thrown and hailstones falling, Joshua stops and prays to the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still so that the battle can be finished that day. Joshua PRAYS! However, he doesn’t simply pray, he prays Outlandishly! Impossibly! Extraordinarily! Audaciously! He prays for the Lord to do something only the Lord can do…make the sun and moon stand still.

 

Now let’s be clear this miracle has not been without its debate as to how it could happen.

 

There have been several hypotheses from human reason for this miracle other than the sun and moon actually stopping which would seem to indicate that the earth stopped its rotation. Some have said that there was a refraction of light that allowed for more sunlight for a longer time. Some have said there was a solar eclipse that took place. Others have said it was simply a special sign that the sun and moon stood opposite one another in the sky and others that the passage is figurative.[ii]

 

However, I have no problem believing that they simply stood still because God would not be God if He could not stop them and still keep everything running in the universe at the same time. What we do know is that what took place was so powerful that it was recorded in another extra-biblical writing called the Book of Jasher. You can get caught up in debating such issues and miss the entire point to the passage. Don’t miss the real marvel of marvels in this passage…the Lord heard and responded to the prayers of a man…Joshua.

The real marvel is that the Sovereign Creator of the universe heardand answered the prayers of His people.

 

If you’d like to read more on this topic, see:

http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1139

 

 

For you to win God’s way you must utilize the greatest weapon…

PRAYER

, because that is THE Important Thing in this story. I call prayer a weapon because that’s how the Bible describes it since this is a spiritual battle in the Promised Land where you live, work and play.

 

In Ephesians 6, Paul described the spiritual armor you need for the daily battle.

6 Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

Ephesians 6:18

 

4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ

. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
 

 

 

You are in this spiritual battle in your Promised Land. There are all kinds of strongholds and arguments against the knowledge of God and His Christ around you. The only way those strongholds come down is through the weapon of prayer. Did you notice in our story what happens when you pray… the Lord fights your battles. What you need is instructions on how to pray winning prayers! Let’s explore some How Tos!

 

Living the Word Applications: To Develop A Winning Prayer Strategy You Will Need To…

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Pause and pray v. 12.

Right in the midst of the battle, Joshua dropped to his knees and spoke to the Lord. Let me be very clear. Prayer is not some magic potion or incantation. It is simply talking to the Lord. How often do you have a tendency to make prayer so rigid and formal and full of “churchy” words that you feel intimidated to pray because you don’t want to mess up.

 

Prayer is simply talking to the Lord and telling Him your need in the moment.

 

 

Henry Blackaby offers some principles for prayer:

 

Prayer always starts with God taking the initiative to invite you into where He is already at work. He calls you into relationship and invites you to listen to His voice. When He speaks, it always creates a crisis of some kind…choices to make that require you to adjust. God told Joshua to stop being afraid and He would fight the battle for him. When Joshua obeyed, the stored up hailstorms were unleashed.

 

Just remember to include these elements in your conversation with God…

Gratitude Identify the things for which you are thankful and express your thanks. Supplications for others in your world who need God’s presence and blessings. Call them by name. Then make your Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. Requests known to God. Then finally, learn to Listen

for His voice. More on that tomorrow.

 

The only way to mess up is NOT to pray. You never know where you will be when the battle comes with a trial or a temptation, so wherever you are in your in work or play and the battle starts taking place…pause and pray.

 

 

THURSDAY: Maintain Open Lines Of Communication…Learn to Listen v. 8.

In verse 8, Joshua heard the Lord say, “

Do not fear

…” We don’t know if he was in prayer in the tabernacle or his tent or simply walking among the troops. But what is certain is that he maintained an open line of communication with the Lord so he could HEAR the Lord’s voice. I think this is important because so much of your prayer time, like mine, is spent with us talking. Take time to listen for the Lord’s voice. Maybe it will come through His Word or maybe it will come through the Spirit’s prompting during the day. When you finish your times of prayer, don’t close off the lines of communication. Ask God to continue to use the world around you to show you His hand on your life.

 

Let me say it again, during your day, maintain open lines of communication with the Lord and listen for His voice.

 

 

FRIDAY: Pray Outlandishly, Impossibly, Extraordinarily, And Audaciously v. 12-14.

You are not to be people of fear, but of outlandish prayers linked to the promises of God. The promise of God reaffirmed to Joshua emboldened him to prayer and then to action. Joshua’s audacious prayer led him to be emboldened by the Promise of God. The old promises of God should reassure you and embolden you to advance God’s Kingdom in your life and in your community NOT retreat in fear. Five kings and armies, right? Remember 2 Corinthians 11:4?

“The weapons of our warfare…” Weapons

… plural, right? So, it’s not only prayer but prayer and the Word of God and a listening ear. The audacious miracle was performed because it was in the will of God to establish His people in the land.
  • What are you praying for right now?
  • Will you pray outlandishly?
  • Will you pray audaciously?

You can pray for the impossible because as Paul said the Lord is “able to far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” I agree with Pastor Larry “Steven” Furtick Jr.,the Lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, that maybe the reason we don’t see God doing more to advance His cause through the church is that we don’t pray audacious prayers like Joshua. Pray!

 

Here’s your challenge for this week:

What audacious prayers can you pray this week?

  • For your family – do you have a family member on a collision course with disaster and you don’t know what to do? Pray for a miracle
  • For your job – are you doing what you want to be doing? Do you need a new career path? Pray for wisdom to keep on looking for something that makes your heart sing.
  • For our nation – are you concerned about the great divide in our land that threatens our republic? Are you really praying for another Great Awakening? For healing among the factions that divide us? For peace to come to Asia and the Middle East? For Jesus to come back?

 

When you look at chapter 10, Joshua learned a lesson from chapter 9 where

prayerlessness led him to be deceived by the Gibeonites. Here he prayed and prayed Outlandishly! Impossibly! Extraordinarily! Audaciously!

. Here prayerfulness led to victory.

 

Will you pray outlandishly and all that other stuff…this week? Will you?

[i]

http://usatodayhss.com/2017/video-a-minn-football-team-scored-19-points-in-final-minute-to-win-the-craziest-state-playoff-game

[ii] Howard, David. Jr. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Broadman and Holman, 1998. Volume 5. 241-245.

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Joshua: “Winning… NOT”

Joshua • “Winning…NOT”

Joshua 7

October 30-November 3, 2017

 
The University of Oklahoma won 47 straight games from 1953-1957until the streak was ended by Notre Dame. Joe DiMaggio had a 56 consecutive game hitting streak May 15-July 17, 1941that was ended by the Cleveland Indians.

 

An article in SportsDay HS by staff writer Avi Zaleon in 2015 sums up high school football in our town.

 

It has been seven years since Celina’s last state title. In most communities, a championship every seven years -or even every 17 years- is considered a blessing. In Celina, seven years is a drought.

“Honestly, they expect you to win every game you play,” said Celina assistant coach Josh Sharrock, who played while Celina was in the midst of its 68-game winning streak from 1998-2002.

At some programs, it’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs. At others, maybe advancing three rounds in the postseason gets you a pat on the back. But Celina is in a very small, elite group of Texas high school football programs where anything less than a state title makes the entire season a shoulder shrug.

 

“They set a very high expectation for their kids because of the success we’ve had,” Celina head coach Bill Elliot said. “They expect the kids and the coaches to do well every year. That puts a little pressure on you, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”

 

Winning streaks are amazing to watch in any sport. Winning streaks are something that we here in Celina are accustomed to in football. Over a 4-year period, we won four state championships and had a 68 games in a row winning streak, until a play-off loss to Dangerfield. Watching a team on a winning streak and being a part of a winning streak is fun, but they eventually come to an end and the loss hurts because no one likes losing…and then there are stories about men like these. Notorious failures fallen from grace and ministry:

C.A. Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Billy Weber, Todd B., Bruce S., King David, Adam and Eve and in our story today, Achan. All had winning streaks broken by willful sin. All of them believed they could hide from God, or else that the rules somehow did not apply to them. Their reputations and ministries were kicked to the curb and left on the ash heap of history. As the scripture says,

23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Numbers 32:23.

 

Not a single one of these guys thought God would ever call them to account…and yet

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, “God will never call us to account.” 14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them.

Psalm 10:13-14

 

These men were giants in Christian ministry, but succumbed to temptations of the flesh.

 

MONDAY: Winning Streak Comes To An End

For the last several weeks, we’ve been in this study of Joshua entitled,

Winning God’s Way and the people of Israel have been on a winning streak. As they entered the Promised Land, they were assured of winning and they experienced one victory after another. However, as with all winning streaks they come to an end and the loss hurts. In the passage we will study this week, Israel’s winning streak came to an end. The title of the message is Winning NOT! This passage is a powerful reminder Christian that for us to win God’s way we must avoid sinful compromise.

1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua 7:1

 

The word “

But” should grab your attention because it connects us with the previous victory over Jericho in Chapter 6. This is like saying this year’s Clemson University football team had won 11 straight football games BUT then they played Syracuse. Joshua and the people were celebrating another win, “But the people Israel broke faith with regard to devoted things…” The phrase, “broke faith”, vividly describes the sin. This word describes acting unfaithfully or betraying the trust in a relationship like that of adultery.[i] In this case it was a broken trust in the relationship between God and Israel. How often have you tried to trivialize sin in your life? From God’s perspective sin is the breaking of a trust…spiritual adultery.

 

In this case, it was “

in regard to the devoted things…” Remember the Lord told Israel that the entire city of Jericho was to be devoted to Him

and all its financial plunder was to be put into the Lord’s treasury.

 

However, Achan, took some of the possessions of the city. The last sentence of verse 1 has an ominous tone to it when it says, “

And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

” This is the part in the movie when the music turns dark and oppressive. You know something bad is about to happen. Back to Joshua 7.

2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5 and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” 10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.”

Joshua 7:2-13

 

Israel, by the grace of God, was on a winning streak BUT then they battled Ai. Ai was a little-bitty town compared to Jericho that did not have the fortifications of Jericho, but they sent Israel running for their lives. Don’t you wonder,

Why did the Lord punish the entire nation of Israel for the sinful act of Achan? Remember when we started this study, we discovered that the unity of Israel was a key theme running throughout the Book of Joshua. You can see that theme vividly on display here. The Lord disciplined the entire nation of Israel in the same way that an entire team is penalized for one player breaking the rules. Alan Redpath

(a well-known British evangelist, pastor and author) explains it the best…

“You see the children of Israel were a nation – they were brought to redemption ground as one man, the weakest of them and the strongest of them. They were a complete entity; God was dealing with them as a corporate body through whom His purposes for men were to be fulfilled. Here at Ai, therefore, the verdict of heaven on the sin of one member of the community was, “Israel hath sinned.”[ii]

 

 

Joshua was devastated by the defeat at Ai so he fell on his face in brokenness before the Lord pleading with the Lord to tell him what happened. This is the first time in this chapter, that you find Joshua seeking the Lord in prayer. Up to this point, he was completely unaware that there was a sin problem in the camp. Coming off the victory at Jericho, they go rambling into the next battle without consulting the Lord. I don’t have a reference for this, but if Joshua had sought the Lord in prayer prior to the battle of Ai, then IMHO, the Lord would have told him that there was sin in the nation because it was through

this prayer time that the Lord revealed the sin to Joshua. The Lord told him that some of the devoted things had been stolen and that was the reason for their defeat. You don’t win when you sin

. Make a note of that. Sinful compromise in your life will always end in defeat. Did I say ALWAYS? No exceptions.

 

TUESDAY: Identifying the Sin

In verses 14-19, the Lord took Joshua through a process of bringing the various tribes and clans of the nation before him to identify the source of the sin. Through this process, Joshua confronted Achan about his sin. Let’s listen to Achan…

20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and I took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord.

Joshua 7:20–23

 

After getting caught, Achan acknowledged his sin. Notice the process of sin’s manifestation in Achan: “

I saw it”; “I wanted it”; and “I took it

.” This is the same thing that occurred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God.

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6

 

Achan fell into the same sinful trap set by the devil in the Garden of Eden and just as in the Garden of Eden, the result was death. In the verses that follow, Joshua and the leaders brought Achan, his entire family, and all his possessions before the nation where they are stoned (rocked to sleep permanently) and everything they owned was burned. In verse 26, they did something interesting.

26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

” Joshua 7:26

 

They built a stone altar and name the place the Valley of Achor. Achor means

trouble.

They built an altar and called the place the Valley of Trouble so that they would always remember that sinful compromise brings trouble.

 

 

WEDNESDAY: You Won’t Win When You Sin Because Sin Always Brings Trouble Into Your Life.

 
Look at the punishment handed down in the case of not only on Achan, but also his family and aren’t you tempted to holler, “FOUL! NOT FAIR!” But the Lord was teaching the Israelites and, by extension, you today the same lesson He’s been trying to teach mankind since the Garden of Eden. Sinful compromise brings trouble into your life, but not only your life, but into the lives of other people as well.

 

Sinful Compromise Has Far Reaching Consequences.

 

Achan’s sin not only affected him, but his family and the entire nation as they suffered defeat at the hands of little-bitty insignificant Ai. According to verse 5, 36 men died in the battle because of Achan’s sinful compromise. What about those men who died because of another man’s sin? What about the families of those men who died because of Achan’s sin?

 

God brings judgment on sin with extreme measures because the far-reaching consequences of sin are extreme. All you need to do is look at the cross of Jesus Christ to see the extreme consequences of sin. For it was there that the innocent blood of Jesus Christ was poured out on Golgotha, under the judgment of God, for your sin so that you might be made right with God. There was no other way.

 

For YOU To Win God’s Way You Must Avoid Sinful Compromise, Because

When You Sin You Won’t Win.

 

Nobody wins. So how can you practically avoid sinful compromise? Here are some practical applications.

 

Living the Word Applications: Avoid sinful compromise by…
 
 

 

THURSDAY: Remind Yourself Of The Far Reaching Consequences Of Sinful Compromise v. 5; 24-25.

 
In this chapter you get a vivid object lesson of the consequences of sinful compromise. Very rarely do your sinful actions affect only you. How often do other people suffer because of your sinful behavior? How often is your family hurt because of your sinful behavior? It’s not worth it. A monkey may be able to whip a skunk, but it’s just not worth it…never was, is or will be.

 

One of the most devastating far-reaching consequences in these verses is found in verse 12,

Therefore, the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. I will be with you no more

…”

 

You are not as strong before the enemy, Satan, when sinful compromise is alive and well in your life because you quench the presence of God in your life. You are only as strong in advancing God’s Kingdom in your Promised Land as the purity of your life. Israel suffered because of the impurity of one man, Achan. You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You are only as strong in accomplishing God’s mission in this world as the purity of your life. Your individual sinfulness affects the effectiveness that our church has in pushing back the enemy around us. Do you feel weak and powerless as a Christian? Purify your life of sinful compromise. Avoid sinful compromise by keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences.

 

Are you willing to take a fearless inventory of your behavior to see where you have embraced sinful compromise…and once taken, will you make immediate corrections while you still can?

 

Be Wary That Underneath Sin’s Sparkle Lies Only Death v. 20-21.

In verses 20-21, the sparkle of the Cloak from Shinar, the silver, and the gold caught Achan’s attention. On the surface it sparkled but underneath it was death. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, a beautiful cloak and silver and gold. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, but underneath is death. Be wary of sin’s sparkle because it when you see it, you can start to covet, and before you know it you are consuming it. Sin’s sparkle invites death into your life.

 

The man who is drawn to lustful looks and then viewing pornography and then into an illicit affair usually fails to see that what sin advertises it NEVER delivers. How often have you known those who traded a lifetime of God’s grace for a few moments of stolen ‘pleasures’? As the prophet Nathan said to King David…”

You are that man

.” Sin never, NEVER delivers what it advertises.
 

FRIDAY: Having A Joshua In Your Life v. 19-20.

 
You need a

Joshua

in your life for accountability. You need someone who will boldly confront you about sin in your life. You need a Joshua who will ask us the tough questions. Who’s your Joshua? If you don’t have one, find an accountability partner. Avoid sinful compromise by having a Joshua in your life. Your enemies won’t tell you whether or not your pants are unzipped or have spinach in your teeth. You need the kind of person who will without apology. I mean it.

 

Remembering Your Sin Will Be Discovered v. 16-21.

 

Achan like so many of you who thought his sin could be hidden, will realize that you can only hide your sin so long. You cannot hide from God…ever. Secret sins will be discovered. Let that sink in…secret sins will be discovered and when they are, you won’t win. So what do you need to do? Bring it out into the open and deal with it decisively.

 

Remember the story about the little boy who had been tasked with planting the bean patch on the farm? He was interrupted by his buddies with an invite to go down to the swimming hole. He told them he couldn’t go because he was planting beans. They persuaded and prevailed and he simply dug one hole at the end of the bean patch and buried all the beans in the same hole. Off they went to swim…but beans have a way of coming up. Judgment day did arrive.

 

Joshua and the people brought it out into the open and dealt with the sin and its consequences decisively. It won’t be easy, but it is the road to blessing, power, and healing…and as we will see next week it is the road to winning again.

[i] Howard, David M. Jr. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Volume 5. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 188.

[ii] Redpath, Alan. Victorious Christian Living.

Fleming H. Revell, 1955, 1993. 118,119.

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Joshua: “Winning Memory”

Joshua • “Winning Memory”

Joshua 4 & 5

October 16-20, 2017

 
Tom Rush sings one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It’s called the

Remember Song. Some of you will smile at this and others of us are living this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yN-6PbqAPM.

Take three minutes to start this week off right.

 

I think that my memory is a bit like a carousel with lots of slots around the outside in which information is stored. The older I get the slower the carousel seems to go. I still have all the information in there somewhere, but it just takes longer to retrieve it. Then there are all the diseases of the mind that will someday steal of our memories.

 

One of the most frustrating things all of us deal with or will ever is forgetfulness. When it comes to a faith walk with God, one of the greatest enemies to faith is forgetfulness. In fact, the forgetfulness of the nation of Israel was on the heart of God in the Book of Deuteronomy as the people were preparing to enter the Promised Land. There is ample evidence that we are following that same path today.

11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today

. Deuteronomy 8:11

 

Forgetting what the Lord had done for them would, as it always does, lead to disobedient living. The Lord knew that an enemy of their faith was forgetfulness so as they entered the Promised Land He wanted them to have a winning memory. The title of this week’s study is “Winning Memory

.” Get your Bibles out and mark Joshua chapters 4-5. Read these two chapters in their entirety and we will summarize most of it and touch on a few verses.

 

There were three ways the Israelites were supposed to remember what the Lord had done for them that would give them a winning memory.

  • They were to remember the crossing of the Jordan River.
  • They were to remember the covenant of Abraham.
  • They were to remember their deliverance from Egypt.

 

Their remembrance of these three events was to transform the way they lived in the Promised Land.

 

MONDAY: Remembering What The Lord Has Done For YOU Should Transform The Way You Live.

 
When you forget what the Lord has done for you, your affection for Him will always weaken…every time… and what follows always leads to disobedient living.
For you to win God’s way you must have a winning memory that transforms the way you live today.

 

Take a moment to look at each of these areas of remembrance.

 

  1. In Chapter 4, The Lord instructed the people to gather 12 stones from the midst of the Jordan River, that river of impossibility for them to cross on their own ability and to set them up as a memorial to remember what the Lord had done there.

 

6 That this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:6-7

 

Verses 23 – 24 further illuminates the purpose of this memorial

23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. Joshua 4:23-24

 

The memorial stones provided a teachable moment for parents to tell their children of the Lord’s power in overcoming the obstacle of the Jordan River reminding them to fear the Lord.

 

The other purpose was evangelistic. The memorial was to be a witness to “ALL THE PEOPLES of the earth” to know the Lord and His power.

 

Remembering what the Lord has done in overcoming obstacles in your life should always lead you to deeper worship of the Lord that is a witness to others. That is living a transformational life.

 

  1. The next way they were to remember what the lord has done is through remembering the Lord’s covenant with Abraham.

 

In chapter 5, you will find that the Lord instructed Joshua to circumcise the sons of Israel. Now for us that might not seem like a big deal but you need to remember that circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the Covenant Relationship he had with God. Circumcision was the outward symbol of inward faith in the Lord.

 

In Genesis 15, the Lord told Abram that he would have descendants like the stars.

6 And he believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

 

In Genesis 17, circumcision was given to Abram as an outward sign of the inward faith covenant he had with the Lord. Faith in the Lord always comes before the outward sign of the faith, in this case, circumcision, which the previous generation did not grasp.

5 Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord; the Lord swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Genesis 17:5-6

 

The previous generation who faithlessly disobeyed God had the outward sign of being God’s people but did not know Him by faith because, “they did not obey the voice of the Lord…”

 

In the Old Testament, God was always interested in a circumcision of the heart by faith before the physical circumcision.

16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. Deuteronomy 10:16

 

The generation entering the Promised Land had never been circumcised because of the disobedience of their parents. However, each person and each generation had to make their own personal commitment of faith to obey the covenant. By remembering to become circumcised, this generation was separating themselves from the previous rebellious generation and making a personal commitment of faith to the Lord by entering the Promised Land.

 

  1. In Joshua 5:10-12 The third way of remembrance…celebrating the Passover. In Joshua 4:19, note that they crossed over on the 10th day of the first month. That is significant because it was on that day that the preparations for Passover were to begin by selecting an unblemished lamb.

10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua 5:10-12

 

Passover was a celebration remembering the most important salvation event in the life of Israel, their deliverance from Egypt. Remembering the Passover in the Promised Land was significant because it remembered salvation from Egypt and God fulfilling His Promises. In remembering their deliverance at Passover, they were reminded that they were to live a new life of faith in the Promised Land because of God’s work of salvation in their lives.

 

 

In

1 Corinthians 5:7, you will read that Christ is our Passover

.
In

1 Corinthians 11:24, you are told to eat the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. Christian, remembering the Lord’s Supper should promote a winning memory in you that transforms the way you live.

 

 

TUESDAY: Celebrating The Lord’s Supper

 

23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again

. I Corinthians 11:23-26

 

Remember always that it is not where or when you celebrate the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection, but HOW and WHY. Do so with honor and reverence and with a contrite heart. If your heart is not prepared, do not partake. It’s not for everyone.

 

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning memory by…
 

 

WEDNESDAY: Breaking Away From The Past Way Of Living 5:5-6.

The circumcision of the next generation signified breaking away from the disbelief and sinful disobedience and living life by faith in the Promised Land. One of the symbols of our faith that is equated with circumcision is baptism. Baptism does not put a person in a right relationship with God, but in the New Testament it always occurred when a person made a

conscious response of faith in Christ

.

6 1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Romans 6:1-4

 

God’s Word says that baptism signifies

breaking away from the old life of sin to living a new life of obedience in Christ

. Can you remember your day of baptism? On that day, you made a conscious decision to publicly profess faith in Christ, to break away from sinful living and to live a new life in Christ.

 

One of my favorite memories is baptizing our youngest son, Don Allen Ivey. He made his profession of faith at age ten and asked me to baptize him. The church he was in refused his request, so I asked my pastor, James Pleitz, at Park Cities Baptist Church if I might baptize Donnie there. I will never forget his response that Sunday afternoon, “

You bet, the baptistery is full and warm. Bring that boy on.” Warmed this old daddy’s heart I can tell you. As we stood in the baptistery together, I asked him, “Son, why did you come to be baptized?” His precious answer still rings in my memory, “Well, Dad, I just gave my heart to Jesus and He told me to come be baptized

.” Hard to beat that.

 

So examine your life again. Are there places where you are forgetting to break away from the old life and live out your new life in Christ? Perhaps today will be a good day to take a fearless inventory of how committed you are to your original profession of faith. You may even decide that you need a renewal of your faith.

 

Demonstrate a winning memory by breaking away from the past way of living.
 

 

THURSDAY: Appreciating The Ordinary 5:10-12.

 

10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

Joshua 5:10-12

 

Once the Israelites celebrated the Passover in the Land, the miraculous daily provision of manna ceased. Now the Lord’s provision would come the ordinary cycles of life such as harvesting crops in the land. So how often do you look for the miracles of God in the spectacular events and forget that His miracles also are found in the ordinary events of life? Appreciate the ordinary way God meets your daily needs such as a steady income, a warm home, a full refrigerator. Appreciate the protection He gives you daily as you move about this Promised Land where He called you to live, work, and play. Don’t become so enthralled in looking for the miraculous that you forget the ordinary ways God works in your life.

 

Take a moment today and make a note of at least twenty ways God has blessed you in the ordinary. Spend 15 minutes expressing your profound gratitude for all God has done for you. I bet you won’t stop at twenty.

 

Demonstrate a winning memory by appreciating the ordinary.
 

 

FRIDAY: Taking Advantage Of Teachable Moments 4:6-7; 23-24.

 
 

Go back to the beginning of the week and review these verses.

 

The memorial stones were to provide teachable moments for parents with their children. Parents, whenever you remember the Lord’s Supper and observe baptism, take advantage of those teachable moments with your kids to talk about the Scriptural significance with them. The memorial stones were also intended to be a witness to other nations as well. Share what the Lord has done in your life in overcoming obstacles. They are opportunities for you to witness to the power of God.

 

Forgetting what the Lord has done for you will lead you to priorities that are upside down…disobedient living, and the lack of a vibrant witness to others in our Promised Land where we live, work, and play. Take the memorial stone with a cross on it that you received Sunday with you and leave it in a place where it will remind you to live out your faith. But also, as people ask you about it, share what God has done in your life. That’s how winning memories work.

 


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Joshua: “Winning Walk”

Joshua • “Winning Walk”

Joshua 3:1-17

October 9-13, 2017

 

When Barb and I first moved to Celina in 2009, we had no idea we would be here except for a short time. A major storm can through Celina that year and tore down trees, blew shingles off houses and knocked down fences. As some of you know, our aunt and uncle owned two houses in Celina… our home and the one across the street…a third home for them. They offered us what is now “Our House” as a temporary place to stay during an unexpected relocation from Arizona back to Texas until we could determine what God had planned for us next. After viewing all the storm damage to both houses, Aunt Frances asked me if I’d take the time ‘since I didn’t have anything else to do’ to work with the insurance companies, adjusters, vendors, et.al. to get bids and to oversee the work of new roofs, new paint and construction of new fences. Our house was a dirty tan color with little character (photo on left). The makeover still makes us smile (photo on right).

 

I gladly agreed to manage the project and sometime during the 4-6 months it took to finish all that work, Barb and I looked at each other and said, “You know, we kinda like it here, why don’t we see if we can make a deal for this house with our aunt.” And we could and we did. We did not choose Celina…God chose it for us. It has been 8 years now and we are blessed indeed.

 

During the construction, a local resident stopped by the front of our house one afternoon and rolled down his window. “You new here, boy?” he said. I told him that anybody who called me “BOY” got my attention. At 69 years of age, I could not remember the last time anybody called me BOY.

 

He said, “Get in the truck, I’m going to show you the town.” As we drove he pointed out homes and gave colorful descriptions of the people who lived there. He took me to City Hall and to the Police Station and introduced me around.

 

On the way back to the house, he gave me his philosophy about living in Celina. His words of advice:

· When you talk to young people around town, talk about progress.

· When you talk to old people in town, talk about tradition.

· Then there are only three words you need to know to live in Celina…Football, FOOTBALL, and FOOTBALL!

 

This time of year we anticipate certain football matchups. The mess in the NFL has accelerated interest in both local high school and NCAA football. There is great build up to those games with all the sports media surrounding the games. Texas-OU is upon us. Celina’s Bobcats have played all the non-district games, and now five district games are ahead of us. The energy, the excitement, and the anticipation that builds up to each kick-off leads ultimately to an explosion of noise that rocks a stadium. The anticipation of the air horn at Bobcat Stadium is all about tradition. Is this the year we win State Championship #9?

 

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and hearing about it, the children of Israel were anticipating finally entering the Promised Land. Anticipation must have been at a boiling point, but the children of Israel could not just go running into the Promised Land like a football team running into a stadium because there was one final obstacle they had to overcome before they could reach the Promised Land…they had to cross the Jordan River. In spite all the anticipation building up, they could not run into the Promised Land, they had to walk. Yes….walk. Because of the obstacle in front of them they had to walk, but that was what the Lord was teaching them … to walk. In this case they were not to run to win but rather walk to win. Why do you suppose that was true? That’s what we will discover this week. The title of this week’s study is “Winning Walk.”

 

 

MONDAY: God Did Not Want His People To Believe They Were Conquering The Promised Land In Their Own Strength.
 

1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length [about 1000 yards]. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passéd this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. 7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

The Ark of the Covenant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_of_the_Covenant, takes a primary role in crossing the Jordan River being mentioned 10 times according to my count. The Ark of the Covenant was always a reminder of God’s Presence with them.

 

Let’s run down a rabbit trail for just a minute. As you review the Wikipedia article above, note that there came a day when the second Temple was destroyed that the Ark disappeared, and contrary to Indiana Jones, it is not squirreled away in some archival storage in Washington DC. Many believe that it was taken to Ethiopia, a contention held by the Messianic Jews who frequently minister there.

 

https://aleteia.org/2016/05/22/is-the-ark-of-the-covenant-in-ethiopia/ The monks who live in the small church of Saint Mary of Zion — also known as the “Chapel of the Ark” — in the sacred Ethiopian city of Aksum are forbidden to go beyond the bars surrounding the chapel.

 

Tradition says they cannot abandon the task entrusted to them: to watch over the “Tabot,” as the Tables of the Law are known in Ethiopia, until the day they die. Abba Gebre Meskel, who is 56 years old, has been on watch for three decades.

 

Archaeology and Legend

According to the Book of Exodus, the Tables of the Law contain the ten commandments God gave Moses high atop Mount Sinai. Some would date the event to the year 1440 BC.

 

Apocryphal legends, part of common knowledge and tradition in northern Africa and some regions in the Middle East, attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. Around these legends, some others were woven, including the alleged Nazi obsession with occultism and relics that would give Indiana Jones one of his most famous missions.

 

But the truth is that, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. After disappearing without a trace – and with no known register of its whereabouts – its whereabouts (assuming it survived the destruction of the Temple) is still one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.

 

Nevertheless, almost 45 million Orthodox Christian Ethiopians are certain that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, almost 3000 years ago, to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and that it has been guarded ever since by these monks in the humble church of Saint Mary of Zion.

 

Menelik, Solomon’s Son

According to the Coptic tradition, the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon had a child: Menelik I, the founder of a dynasty of Solomonic Emperors that ruled Ethiopia. He would have been in charge of moving the precious chest, made out of gold and acacia wood.

 

In an interview with National Geographic, the temple’s Deacon, Zemikael Brhane, said “God Himself chose this land, and Aksum is our holiest city. Westerners always demand visible proof, but we Ethiopians do not need to see the Ark to know it is here: we just feel it, we know it.”

 

Who can get into the church?

No one aside from the guardian monks is allowed to enter the church. One of the few people even permitted to talk to these monks is the historian Ephrem Brhane, who has devoted himself to guiding pilgrims, faithful and tourists from all over the globe around Aksum. He claims that “Abba Gebre Meskel is 100% convinced it is the authentic Ark: it not only has the exact shape described in the Bible but, moreover, it shines with an enormous light.”

 

Can the Ark be seen?

For seven days a month, before the sun rises, the monks of Saint Mary of Zion take a copy of the Ark out in procession. Each and every one of the Orthodox churches in Ethiopia has a copy of the Ark. Routinely, almost a thousand faithful attend the processions every month. However, the old Chapel of Our Lady of Zion seems to have fulfilled its duty: several leaks in its roofs have forced the monks to start the construction of a new temple, right next to the actual one into which, in the utmost secret, the monks will take the Ark.

 

No one will know that the Ark has been moved once again, into this new temple, until the day after the deed is done.

 

Now back on track. Notice the obstacle in front of the Israelites…the Jordan River. Verse 15 includes an important note about the Jordan River, (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of the harvest…) While the Jordan River is not normally an impressively large river, at the time of year that the Israelites were approaching it, the river was at flood stage. Dale Ralph Davis whom we quoted last week says in his No Falling Words: Expositions on the Book of Joshua, if it was similar to today’s proportions it was from 90 to 100 feet wide with a flood plain from 200 yards to 1 mile wide. The river channel may vary in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet at different points. With the Jordan River draining from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south, there is an average drop in elevation of this river of about 9 feet per mile.[i] Therefore, it was not a quiet little river, but a raging torrent of water.

 

It was a river of impossibility for them to cross on their own ability.

 

Whatever obstacle you are facing both the size and the timing are determined by God.

If it were any other time of the year, then the children of Israel would have had no problem crossing the Jordan. But God brought them to that place at that time, with the river at flood stage, and made crossing on their own ability beyond them. When you encounter obstacles in life, you must know that the both the size and timing are determined by God. It will never be convenient for you but it will be providential for you.

 

Remember that:

· God does whatever He pleases,

· With whomever He chooses,

· Whenever He wishes

 

As with all obstacles that God permits into your lives, there was a purpose to the obstacles in the life of the nation of Israel. Verse 7 tells us one purpose was to clearly demonstrate to the nation that the Lord was with Joshua. But verse 10, points us to what I believe is the primary purpose of the obstacle of the Jordan River, “And Joshua said,

10Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.”

 

The purpose: they would know with all assurance that the living God was present with them AND that He would conquer all their enemies thus giving them the Promised Land.

 

 

TUESDAY: God’s Victory Over The Present Obstacle Was To Give Them Faithful Courage For Dealing With Future Obstacles.
 

The miracle of overcoming this obstacle was intended to encourage their faith in claiming the Promised Land. Whenever they encountered the obstacles of facing the people in battle, then they were to look back to the Jordan River and be encouraged in faith. Since the Lord overcame a raging river, He would overcome their enemies…and He will do the same for you.

 

Now let’s get back to the heart of the matter with this encounter with this obstacle. To overcome this obstacle, God gave them some very specific instructions to follow.

· He told them to consecrate themselves in v. 5. In other words they were to prepare themselves spiritually to overcome the obstacle of the Jordan River.

· Next, he told them to let the priests to walk towards the raging river and step into it and then He would split the waters.

· Finally, they were told to let the priests with the Ark of the Covenant go in before them.

 

Look back at verse 4,

“Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

 

The Ark was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to go. The Ark of the Lord was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to walk in overcoming the obstacle of the Jordan River but also other obstacles in their future.

 

Walking was both physical and spiritual here. Walking was physical because they needed to know the exact place to cross the river. But, walking was also spiritual. They were to walk in the ways of God to overcome the obstacle. In both the Old and New Testaments you are to WALK in a spiritual walk with the Lord.

20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Exodus 18:20

 

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1

 

Both the physical walk and the spiritual walk were then and are now important to what the Lord was doing in the hearts of the people teaching them to overcome obstacles. Did you notice the difference between this miracle and the parting of the Red Sea? In parting the Red Sea, Moses held up his staff and the Lord spit the Red Sea before the people entered in. Here they are told to step into the raging river. Why do you suppose there was a difference? Perhaps, because they were in a spiritual WALK of faith learning to trust and obey.

 

A winning walk is one of trust and obedience in the Lord.

Your life is much like the Israelites standing on the banks of the Jordan River when you face obstacles. In the Christian life there are times when the Lord leads you to overwhelming obstacles to living in the area of the world that is your Promised Land. Is there a lesson here for you to learn in overcoming the obstacles that God puts before you and to win?

 

For You To Win God’s Way You Must Have A Winning Walk Of Trust And Obedience To The Lord In This World.

 

How can you do that?

 

Living the Word Applications: How YOU Can Develop a Winning Walk This Week!

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Being Spiritually Prepared v. 5.
 

In verse 5, they were told to consecrate” themselves. This referred to spiritual preparations that included ritual cleansings in pools of water, abstinence from marital relations and fasting from certain foods.[ii] All of this was to prepare them spiritually to walk in trust and obedience to the Lord. In the Promised Land, there were spiritual battles as well because the land was filled with idolatry and sinfulness. In your daily walk with the Lord, trust and obedience are not things that just happen. You must be spiritually prepared because you are in spiritual warfare every day in the Promised Land where you live, where you work, and where you play.

Most of you know that Barb and I coach marriages…new ones, good ones and those in jeopardy. In every case, when we send couples back home, we remind them that the Powers of Evil do not want them doing well in their homes. We encourage them to be alert and on guard for the onslaughts of the Devil every day. We encourage them to watch Priscilla Shirer’s WAR ROOM movie again and again. It is an uphill battle every day. Evil does not take time off…ever, and you cannot afford to either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIl-XY9t_Lw

 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11

 

Prayer and fasting on a regular basis are always good ways to prepare yourself spiritually. Spending time in prayer each day should be a habit, but also consider regular fasting. Consider fasting one day a week or a month. Consider fasting as you are dealing with difficult obstacles and need the guidance of the Lord. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by being spiritually prepared. Do everything you can do to prepare and then trust the Lord for the outcomes. He can see in the dark, wherever He leads you.

 

 

THURSDAY: Seeking Counsel In The Right Place v. 5-12.
 

The people of Israel received counsel from Joshua in crossing the Jordan so they heard God’s Word from a godly man. Be selective in where you seek counsel. Listen to godly people by seeking counsel from people you know have a close walk with the Lord. Listen to God’s Word by reading slowly and attentively; paying attention to how the Holy Spirit pricks your heart on specific words or phrases and then trust and obey. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by seeking counsel in the right place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q00TXBPl9i4

 

An old Chinese proverb says, “Man sit for long time with mouth open waiting for roast duck to fly in.”

 

Wise counsel must be sought vigorously. Study your Bible topically about whatever obstacle is in front of you. Consult with people you know are walking with God vigorously and daily. Read devotional books. Ask for help. Then when you have to decide what trust and obey means, be willing to pray this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I have sought your word, I have consulted with people whom I am confident are seeking your best for their lives, I have prayed diligently for wisdom…now I am ready to take action. It seems to me that THIS is the way You want me to go and I’m willing to step out on faith to make that happen. If this is not the way You want me to go, then please make it crystal clear that I’m on the wrong path. I just want to be what you want me to be and I’ll go wherever you lead. Please hear this prayer because I make it in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

FRIDAY: Having A Victorious Attitude v. 10.
 

The children of Israel were to have the attitude that God had already given them victory over all the Promised Land. God gave them these visual reminders that they could hark back to whenever they were fearful in the future. Repeatedly God gave them miracles like the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna and quail in the desert, water where there was none. But those were signs of God’s favor to their parents and God in His infinite wisdom gave them a sign of their own for them to remember as they faced other obstacles in conquering the Promised Land. They could look back to the miracle of the Jordan River and know that it was through trust and obedience that the Lord would continue to overcome obstacles.

 

In your Promised Land, where you live, where you work, and where you play there will always be obstacles to overcome, but you don’t need a defeated attitude. I have read the end of the book and WE WIN.

 

You are to have a victorious attitude by looking back to the cross and the resurrection because the victory is already yours and mine in our Promised Land. What Christ did on the cross and the resurrection lets us know that we have victory in our Promised Land where we live, where work, and where we play no matter what obstacles we face. Have a victorious attitude and keep trusting and obeying.

 

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 

5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5

 

He is the living God who dwells in you and He who is in you in greater than the world so we keep trusting and obeying. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by having a victorious attitude. You can do this!

 



[i] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua. Baker Book House, 1988. 38.

[ii] Howard, David M. The New American Commentary: Joshua. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 122-123.


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Joshua: Winning Faith

Joshua • “Winning Faith”

Joshua 2:1-24

October 2-6, 2017

 
Have you ever wondered how you can please God? I have found that most people that believe in God struggle with the question, “

How can I please God

?” Here’s the answer to that question.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

 

This verse tells us that the key to pleasing God is faith because it is through faith that we believe that He not only exists but that we draw near to Him. The most basic component of a relationship with God is faith. The title of this week’s study is “

Winning Faith

.”

 

How Can You Make God Happy?

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-make-god-happy-701961

(An adaptation from Jack Zavada 2014)
On the surface, this seems like a question you might ask before

Christmas: “What do you get the person who has everything?” God, who created and owns the entire universe, doesn’t really need anything from you, yet it’s relationship we’re talking about. You want a deeper, more intimate friendship

with God, and that’s what he wants too.

 

Jesus Christ

revealed what you can do to make God happy:

37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

 

Pleasing God By Loving Him

An on-again, off-again effort won’t do. Neither will a lukewarm love. No, God wants you to give him your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind.

 

You’ve probably been so deeply in love with another person that they constantly filled your thoughts. You couldn’t get them out of your mind, but you didn’t want to try. When you love someone passionately, you put your whole being into it, down to your very soul.

 

That’s the way

David loved God. David was consumed by God, intensely in love with his Lord. When you read the Psalms

, you find David pouring out his feelings, unashamed of his desire for this great God:

49 I love you, O Lord, my strength … Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to your name. 50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

Psalm 18:1, 49-50, NIV

 

At times David was a shameful sinner. All of us

sin, yet God called David “a man after my own heart” because David’s love for God was authentic. You show your love for God by keeping His Commandments

, but all of us do that poorly. God sees your meager efforts as acts of love, just as parents appreciate their child’s crude crayon portrait of them.

 

The Bible tells us God looks into our hearts, seeing the purity of our motives. Your unselfish desire to love God pleases him.

 

When two people are in love, they look for every opportunity to be together as they delight in the process of getting to know each other. Loving God is expressed in the same way, by

spending time in his presence—listening for his voice, thanking and praising him, or reading

and contemplating his Word.
You also make God happy in how you respond to his

answers to your prayers. People who value the gift over the Giver are selfish. On the other hand, if you accept God’s will

as being good and right—even if it appears otherwise—your attitude is spiritually mature.

 

Pleasing God By Loving Others

God calls us to love one another, and that can be hard. Everyone you encounter is not lovable. In fact, some people are downright nasty. How can you love them?

 

The secret lies in “

love your neighbor as yourself

.” You are not perfect. You will never be perfect. You know you have faults, yet God commands you to love yourself. If you can love yourself despite your faults, you can love your neighbor despite his or her faults. You can try to see them as God sees them. You can look for their good traits, as God does.

 

Again, Jesus is our example of

how to love others. He was not impressed by status or appearance. He loved lepers, the poor, the blind, the rich and the angry. He loved people who were great sinners, like tax collectors

and prostitutes. He loves you too.

35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John

13:35, NIV

 

You cannot follow Christ and be haters. The two do not go together. To make God happy, you must be radically different from the rest of the world. Jesus’ disciples are commanded to love one another and forgive one another even when our feelings tempt us not to.

 

Pleasing God By Loving Yourself

A surprisingly large number of Christians do not love themselves. They consider it prideful to see themselves as worthwhile.

 

If you were raised in an environment where humility was praised and pride was considered a sin, remember that your worth comes not from how you look or what you do, but from the fact that God loves you deeply. You can rejoice that God has adopted you as one of his children and nothing can separate you from his love.

 

When you have a healthy love for yourself—

when you see yourself how God sees you—you treat yourself with kindness. You don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake; you forgive yourself. You take good care of your health. You have a future filled with hope because Jesus died for you

.

 

Pleasing God by loving him, your neighbor, and yourself is no small task. It will challenge you to your limits and take the rest of your life to learn to do well, but it’s the highest calling any person can have.
 

 

 

MONDAY: For You To Win God’s Way You Must Demonstrate A Winning Faith In This World.

But what are the qualities of a winning faith? Within the verses of this chapter, you will discover a winning faith in the most unlikely of places.

1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land. 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land. 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. 8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men said to her, Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.

Joshua 2:1-15

 

David M. Howard is professor of Old Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary. In his New American Commentary on Joshua he opines: You might suspect that these spies had a sinful motive in showing up at the house of Rahab, but the grammar of this passage does not point in that direction at all. It was not uncommon for homes like Rahab’s to be inns or taverns for others to gather. Therefore, it would have been a logical place for the spies to gather information about their investigation into the Promise Land.[i]

 

Also, it may have been there that the spies were noticed by others and their presence reported to the King. Moving beyond these details, you arrive at the central truth of this chapter and that is the

winning faith of Rahab demonstrated in verses 6-11. Take note of some of the qualities of a winning faith

.

 

 

 

TUESDAY: Qualities of Winning Faith

Quality #1: The confession of her faith v. 8,11.

She confessed that she knew the Lord had given the land into the hands of Israel because their hearts melted at hearing of the miracle of the Red Sea and the conquering of the Amorite Kings. But then in verse 11 she says, “

Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath

.” For her to make this confession she acknowledges that the Lord God is the only true God. The phrase “in the heavens above and earth beneath…” is only found three other times in the OT. In Exodus 20:4 and Deuteronomy 5:8 it is declared in denouncing idols.

8 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Deuteronomy 5:8

 

Here is a confession of the exclusivity of God.

39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Deuteronomy 4:39

 

In this confession, she was denouncing idols in an idol worshiping culture and confessing that there is only ONE true God, the God of Israel. Her confession of faith agreed with God’s confession of Himself. People in our world today have a lot of opinions about God, but do their opinions agree with what God has confessed about Himself in His Word?

 

You see it’s not merely important that we have a confession of faith

about God

, but the importance is that our confession agree with what God has confessed about Himself. The people of the Promised Land had a lot of opinions about gods, but they didn’t agree with what the Lord God confessed about Himself. That brings me to the second quality of her faith…

 

Quality #2: The strength of her faith v. 8-11.

 
Two times in our passage Rahab mentions the effects the power of the Lord had on the hearts the people in the land. She said in verse

8fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.

 

In verse 11 she confessed,

11our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you,”

The hearts of the people in the land melted not into faith in the Lord but into rebellion against the Lord. However, Rahab’s heart melted into a submissive faith in the Lord. She demonstrated a strength of faith in the Lord because she was the only person in the entire land of Canaan who turned to the Lord.

 

Think about that for a moment. The entire nation heard what the Lord had done at the Red Sea and in conquering the Amorite Kings, but she was the only one who heard and placed her faith in the Lord. In a Canaanite culture that worshiped multiple gods and idols, she turned away from idols to serve the ONE true and living God. ONE lady standing for the Lord in a pagan land. That is strength of faith because she was willing to stand alone. There might be some who would say something like, “

Her faith was superficial and circumstantial because she was trying to save herself when Jericho was destroyed.”

However, her faith was sincerely strong NOT circumstantially superficial. We know that because of the third quality…

 

 

Quality #3: The Works Of Her Faith v. 3-7; 16-18.

The key passage for this week says she protected the spies and sent them safely out of the city by lowering them down a rope from her window. In doing so, the spies told her to hang a scarlet cord out the window and any in her house would be saved from destruction. When she confessed her faith and demonstrated her strength of faith in the Lord, she identified herself with the Lord and His people Israel. She was not only saying, “

You are my God,” but also “Your people are my people.” To identify with God’s people Israel was to identify with God and to leave the people she had known her entire life. Her protection of the spies put her life at risk for faith in the Lord and protecting His people. In fact, Rahab is mentioned in the New Testament Book of James as having an authentic faith

, and she was in the lineage from Boaz to Obed to Jesse to David and ultimately to Jesus, himself. Not possible unless she had genuine faith…winning faith.

 

James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, wrote his New Testament letter to combat superficial faith and one of the major qualities he said that was indicative of true faith was that it works itself out in the way we live. Listen to what he wrote of Rahab.

25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:25-26

 

In no way was James saying that you can be saved by works…in fact it is the opposite. The word “

justified” that means declared right with God

, is in a tense that emphasizes something that happened in the past that continues into the present. Rahab was right with God and continued in the present through her works…receiving the messengers and sending them safely out another way.

 

True faith moves beyond confession to working itself out in the way we live.

A winning faith works. Rahab demonstrated three qualities of a winning faith so what do they mean to YOU so you can win God’s Way?

37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

 

NOW WHAT?

What do these qualities mean to you so that you can win God’s way?

 

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning faith by…
 

 

WEDNESDAY: Personalizing Your Faith v. 8.

The name of God that Rahab confessed in verse 8 and verse 11 was the name יְהֹוָה “

Yahweh.” This was the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush indicating the personal relationship He would have with Moses and the nation of Israel. Rahab knew this name “Yahweh” and had a personal faith in Him. A winning faith is one that is personal between an individual and the Lord God. It moves beyond believing because my parents believe or my friends believe to believing because I believe. It moves beyond Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world to Jesus dying on the cross for me and I needed Him to. Have you personalized your faith?

A winning faith is personal.

 

Some of us teach

Kids Beach Club Bible

on Tuesday afternoons. Each week we encourage these precious kiddos to understand the simple basics of personalizing their faith:
  • All of us are sinners and cannot get to God on our own.
  • God sent His son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sin. He died in our place.
  • God calls all of us to accept the gift of Jesus’ death and to confess that He is in charge of our lives once we accept Him
  • Finally, God intends for us to live like we believe in Him…to love Him, to love others and to love ourselves as He does.
  • In the vernacular, it’s put your money where your mouth is, don’t just tell me about your faith…show me.

 

 

THURSDAY: Standing Alone v. 8-11.

Rahab’s faith was so personal that she was willing to stand alone in a culture that believed in many gods and many paths to those gods. In our culture today people believe that there are many religious pathways to God. But winning faith is one that is so strong it is willing to stand alone in a culture that is against the truth of God. A winning faith that stands alone and confesses faith in God that is in agreement with what God has confessed about Himself. He is the One true God and there is one way to Him and that is faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Let me ask you this…in how many of these situations would you be willing to stand alone:

  • You are a Christian in a trade that caters to the public and are approached by a same-sex couple wanting you to provide wedding services. Would you stand alone?
  • You bring your Bible to the workplace and are told to leave it home? Would you stand alone?
  • You wear a shirt with a Christian fish or cross on it to school and are asked to take it off or turn it inside out? Would you stand alone?
  • You employ enough people that the government wants you to provide birth control including the ‘morning after’ pill to your employees against your beliefs. Would you stand alone?

 

The lawyers for the Christian owners of a Minnesota video-services company are firing back after a federal judge there called the couple’s efforts to limit their wedding work to heterosexual couples “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

Carl and Angel Larsen operate Telescope Media, a video business that the Larsens want to include wedding videos. But they have a problem in the recently amended Minnesota Human Rights Act, which forbids businesses to treat people differently based upon “race, color, national origin, sex, disability (or) sexual orientation.”

 

Violation of the Human Rights Act could result in fines as high as $25,000 per incident.

The Larsens launched a pre-emptive lawsuit that was rejected last week by federal Judge John Mannheim, who wrote that the effort by the Larsens to film weddings but decline requests to video same-sex ceremonies was “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

 

The Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, is representing the Larsens. Senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs told WND and Radio America that Judge Tunheim’s rationale is way off base.

“That comparison is entirely false. The Larsens do not discriminate based on of any status,” Scruggs explained. “They are willing to serve all people, including people of all different sexual orientations. They just can’t promote messages they disagree with and events they disagree with. That’s a common-sense distinction.” He said the judge’s disturbing language did not stop there.

 

“The court acknowledged that this law was raising First Amendment concerns yet said that was only an ‘incidental burden’ on the Larsens’ First Amendment rights, when they are compelled to create and promote videos of a same-sex wedding ceremony,” Scruggs said.

 

“That is a direct assault on the First Amendment,” he added. “We’re hopeful that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the appellate court, will be receptive of our arguments to protect the Larsens’ rights.”

Scruggs said a bedrock American constitutional principle is at stake here.

 

“All Americans should have the right to choose what messages they promote or the messages they don’t promote,” he said. “It is a great burden on our clients’ freedoms for the state to come in and say, ‘You’ve got to create from scratch a video that promotes and honors a same-sex wedding ceremony.”

 

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2017/09/u-s-christians-alarming-choice-betray-faith-or-close-your-businesses/#O9ddTOvaAPP0H5ch.99

 

This is not unique or exhaustive, but a real world example of what others have had to do to stand alone.

 

 

FRIDAY: Working Out Your Faith…Caring for People v. 16-18.

Rahab worked out her faith by caring for the spies. You might think, “Well that’s a pretty simple thing to do” but consider this; she took great risk in caring for those spies because she could have been killed for hiding them from the King and his men. As Christ followers, caring for people is mentioned several times in the New Testament as a sign of real faith.

15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:15-17

 

As you encounter people with needs, work out your faith by meeting their needs. The book of James challenges you in several areas of working out our faith. Read through this little book and let speak to you about developing a winning faith that works out. A winning faith works itself out by caring for the needs of people.

 

In closing, I want you to turn your thoughts back to Hebrews 11:6 that says it is faith that pleases God. In this chapter, God’s Word describes for us several people who lived by the kind of faith that pleased God. Rahab worked out her faith by taking the risk of helping the spies.

31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31

 

Just some food for thought:

  • Do you have clothes you never wear that someone else could use?
  • Do you have an elderly neighbor who could use some help mowing the yard?
  • Have you gotten the names of service men/women who could use a card of encouragement and a care-package of cookies in far away places?
  • Have you called the church office to see if there is anyone on whom you could make a call in the hospital?
  • Is there someone in the nursing home who could use a hug today?
  • Have you volunteered at Grace Bridge?
  • Did you pick up the tab for a first responder’s lunch?
  • Did you write a thank you note to the church staff?
  • Can you offer a ride to the store for a homebound person?
  • Have you made “monster cookies” (Google it…they are scrumptious) and put them in plastic tubs to take to neighbors you do not know?
  • Have you participated in First Connect and Can We Talk?
  • Please feel free to add to the list.

 

Winning Faith really is about PUT UP or SHUT UP. Don’t just tell me about your faith,

show me

.

 

That’s a winning faith that pleases God.

 

[i] Howard, David M. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. Volume 5. 98-99.

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Joshua: Winning Unity

Joshua • “Winning Unity”

Joshua 1:10-18

September 25-29, 2017

 

In 1961 Thomas van Beek, then a twenty-five year old executive, needed to hire a personal secretary. After a long and discouraging procession of applicants, a bright and charming young lady came into his office for an interview. Her name was Miss Neef. Her references were impeccable, her typing and shorthand were more than adequate, and more importantly, she projected an aura of personal stability, confidence, and energy. Tom hired her on the spot.

 

After Miss Neef’s first week on the job, Tom was sue he had found the perfect assistant. She was an executive’s dream. When she answered the phone, she projected authority; when faced with emergencies, she was always calm. She never seemed to grow weary or frayed from stress.

 

Miss Neef was tireless. At the end of a long day—-even when her young employer was completely exhausted— she was always fresh and energetic. She never ceased to amaze him. He could not understand how she remained so energized, so on top of her game.

 

After twelve years, Tom discovered the answer to that mystery. Miss Neef told him she was ready to retire. She didn’t desire another job offer; she was simply ready to step down as his private secretary.

Tom gracefully accepted her resignation and decided to throw her a going away party. He decided to do it up right.

 

He pulled out all the stops, and then was stopped dead in his tracks. For shortly after the guest of honor arrived—-the guest of honor arrived. And the secret to Miss Neef’s boundless energy was no longer a mystery. Where Tom had been certain for twelve years that his one secretary was two, he discovered that two had been doing the work of one all along. Miss Neef was actually identical twin sisters sharing the same job. They had worked together so effectively that Tom never suspected. Each worked half the time and split the paycheck.

 

For more than a decade, the sisters worked in such a harmonious partnership—communicating, brainstorming, covering each other when needed— that no one knew not even the person who spent forty hours a week with them. They were truly working as one.[i]

 

They were poster children for

Winning Unity

. That’s the title for this week’s study: “Winning Unity.”
I have mentioned to you before an upcoming movie

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. It opens in theaters October 20 and I encourage you to go see how befriending one man created a cascading Winning Unity that continues to bear fruit. Check it out. Here’s the trailer along with a challenge to Make a Difference

. That’s the essence of Winning Unity.

http://www.samekindofdifferentasmemovie.com/make-a-difference.php

 

MONDAY: For You To Win God’s Way You Must Demonstrate Winning Unity In This World.

John Donne’s classic tells of the connectedness we all share, and yet, as our study this week will show, you need others in unity to be all you can be.

 

 

 

No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself;

Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

As well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. –

John Donne

 

Joshua tells us of a time when God gave a specific example of the importance that Unity plays in Winning.

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ” 12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” 16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Joshua 1:10-18

 

Fresh off the words of encouragement from the Lord in verses 1-9 (

review last week’s DD

), Joshua stepped up as the new leader of the nation of Israel and commanded his officers to prepare the people to cross the Jordan and claim the Promised land. One of the intriguing commands given in this passage was to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Even though they had asked for land on the east side of the Jordan River, Joshua told them they too must cross the River with the 9 ½ other tribes to claim the land of Canaan based on the commandment of Moses. What is happening here? There is some background knowledge in Numbers 32 that will help you understand this situation. Look it up.

 

In Numbers 32, these 2 ½ tribes decided that the land of Gilead on the east side of the Jordan was ideal for raising livestock and since they were shepherds and ranchers, they requested that Moses give them that land as their portion of the Promised land. Here’s what Moses told them:

6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the Lord had given them. Numbers 32:6-9

In verses 8 – 9, Moses refers back to their initial approach to the Promised Land described in Numbers 13 – 14. Other than Joshua and Caleb, the report of 10 of the spies discouraged Israel’s heart and led to rebellion against God that sentenced them to 40 years of wilderness wandering until all over 20 years of age died. Moses sensing the discouragement that would happen again says, “

There will NOT be another rebellion! There will be unity in the nation following the Lord. We will all go into the Promised Land together. “ These tribes responded by saying, “We will go into the land with you.

” In our verses this morning, Joshua reinforces the commitment they made to Moses for the unity of the nation.

 

The unity of the nation was vitally important to Israel moving into the Promised Land and we see it emphasized in the first chapter of Joshua. Joshua 1:2 says, “

you and all this people go to the land which I am giving to them, the children of Israel.” You can see it again in the challenge given to these 2 ½ tribes to enter the land of Canaan even though they had already been given possession of their land. Dale Ralph Davis is Minister in Residence, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to that he was pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. He notes in his commentary on Joshua, that “all Israel” is a concern throughout the book of Joshua.[ii]

 

 

TUESDAY: The Lord Called Israel To Demonstrate Winning Unity.

Winning was a direct result of their Unity. God said, ‘Come on boys, we’re doing this together’ or something like that. So, how were they to demonstrate this winning unity? By fighting their brother’s battles with them.

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

Joshua 1:14-15

 

Joshua said, “I know you are already at rest, but you need to join your brother tribes and help them by fighting their battles until they too have rest.”

 

The purpose of fighting other people’s battles with them was to encourage them in their faith.

In Moses’ initial command to these tribes in Numbers 32, he was concerned about their hearts being discouraged over their lack of faith that God would indeed lead them to claim the land of Canaan.

6 Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them

?” Numbers 32:6-7

 

Not going across the Jordan with the nation could easily have fractured the tenuous faith of the other tribes from wanting to go across. However, with these 2 ½ tribes crossing with them even when they already possessed their land it would encourage the faith of the rest of the nation to claim their land.

 

As we will see when we get to the 4

th

chapter of Joshua, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh brought a significant fighting force to add to the other tribes

12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

Joshua 4:12-13

 

The same thing is true in living the Christian life. When you feel like you are fighting battles on your own, you can feel discouraged and want to give up. How often do you get discouraged about striving to claim the Promised Land where you live and work for the Lord because the battles too tough. But what a difference it makes in our faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you. Take a few minutes to hear an excerpt from Vance Havner’s sermon…

You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA-XbA7NGaU . It’s also a chapter in his little book Playing Marbles with Diamonds

. Worth a listen or a read. You Are NOT Alone!

Each autumn one of the wonders of nature that alerts you to the coming of winter is the sight of a flock of geese flying south for the winter. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates and uplift for the bird behind it. By flying in a V-formation, a flock of geese increases its flying range by 72% compared to each bird flying alone. When the lead goose grows tired, he rotates back in formation and another goose flies up front for a while. As they fly, the geese in the back honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed and momentum.[iii]

 

 

These geese face incredible odds, extreme circumstances and weather, daily battles to survive and to reach their final destination, but the only way they survive is through uniting together and fighting those battles together.

What a difference it can make in your faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you.

 

How can we demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them?

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning unity by…

 

WEDNESDAY: A Community Commitment v. 16-18.

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!”

Joshua 1:16-17

 

Notice the repeated use of the words “

us” and “we

.” The Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh were so committed to one another they were willing to cross over the Jordan and fight their brother’s battles.

 

As followers of Jesus Christ, you must be committed to your fellow believers. You must be committed to our church body, our members, and our mission in the world. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed to helping other Christians, but it does mean that your community commitment is to

this

church body. This means you are involved in the lives of this community of believers. Increase your commitment level by involving yourself in Sunday school classes where you come to build deeper relationships with others in this church body. Increase your commitment level by serving alonsdied others of us in various ministries. Demonstrate winning unity by a community commitment.

 

THURSDAY: Being Present For Others In Their Battles v. 14-15.

The very presence of these 2 ½ tribes WITH the other tribes going into the Land of Canaan encouraged the hearts of all of them. When you know of battles that others are facing, be present with them in their battle by getting involved. While you may not know what to say, your presence with them for even 30 minutes can encourage them in the battle. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mow someone else’s yard
  • Edge a neighbor’s sidewalks
  • Take meals to home bound persons
  • Help neighbors restore their homes i.e. iServe
  • Breakfast/lunch for someone who has lost loved one – do it for a year (remember that after the casserole dishes go home, the grief remains)
  • Call the church and find out who is in the hospital and then make a hospital visit
  • Give a gift of kindness and remain anonymous
  • Babysit for a couple with children so they can have a date night
  • Buy a meal for a first responder who is eating where you are.
  • Thank a service man/woman in uniform
  • Thank a police officer for his/her service
  • Write Thank You notes
  • Volunteer at Grace Bridge
  • Pray for Marcy and tell her so. Respond to CaringBridge
  • Adopt a widow or widower and create a new ‘family’ for them
  • Bake cookies and take a batch to all your neighbors – get acquainted
  • Clothe a child
  • Be a Big Brother or Big Sister
  • Go on a mission trip to Togo or Ciudad Acuña
  • Volunteer to help at Beach Club Bible on Tuesdays

 

It’s amazing how many opportunities there are for you to help your brothers and sisters fight the battles they are facing.

 

For years now I have made it a habit to stay close to my friends who have lost loved ones. I make it a point to meet with them weekly, remember key dates like birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. Sometimes it’s little more than buying breakfast or lunch, a phone call, or a handwritten note. My favorite is buying breakfast. Just remember that the grief lingers long after the casserole dishes go home.
 

 

 

 

FRIDAY: Be Transparent About Your Battles…Ask For Help v. 14.

Did you notice how Joshua reminded the Israelites about their prior commitment? He was being transparent, asking for help. Is it true of you that one of the difficulties you have is admitting that you are in a battle and asking for help? Even Joshua, this great leader, was transparent enough to say, “We’re facing some big battles and we need your help.” How many of you don’t want to be transparent when you’re in a battle or struggling because you don’t want to be a problem for others?

 

But, it’s important to note that being transparent and asking for help encouraged unity.

 

All of you will face battles of some sort in the coming months, but you are not to face the battles alone. Some of you will face:

  • Financial issues
  • Loss of job
  • Relationships with your spouse
  • Children who have gone off the reservation
  • Health issues from the mundane to life threatening
  • Aging parents and grandparents
  • End of Life Issues
  • Threats of war and catastrophic losses
  • Temptations with sin
  • Struggles with drugs and alcohol
  • Pornography

 

No matter what your battle, you don’t have to face your battles alone.

You’re Not Alone…Look Who’s Here,

and not only is He here, I make a good friend and I care. How can I serve you?

 

In closing, I want you to know that there is one more fascinating fact about those geese flying in a V-formation. Any time on the journey that one of the geese becomes sick or wounded and falls out of formation, one or two geese will drop out and follow him down. They will stay with him until he is able to fly again or is dead, then they will rejoin another formation. If these geese have enough instinct and mercy to pull out and help their sick or wounded or hurting, then shouldn’t we as the church?

 

Demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them. There is no shortage of opportunity to plug in.

[i] http://scopenewsletter.com/illustrations/a-natural-partnership/

[ii] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua.

Baker Book House, 1988. 20.

[iii] Maxwell, John. The Power of Partnership.

InJoy Ministries, 1999. 76-77.

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Worship From God’s Perspective: “Worshipful Bringing”

 

Worship from God’s Perspective • “Worshipful Bringing”

Malachi 3:6-15

August 21-25, 2017

 

 
 
Have you noticed this year how frequently we have had rainfall in Celina this year? Most of you know that we have among the highest water rates in North Texas

, https://sites.google.com/site/celinatestsite/departments-1/utility-billing/water-sewer-rates so the well- spaced rain we have had this year has made it much less necessary to water our lawns and flowers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_0seoCoOwIn.

That’s a good thing.

 

A few weeks ago we discussed the prospects of a universal flood when we studied the Genesis passages on Noah. (See

Digging Deeper for August 7-11). Not only did it rain cats and dogs for 40 days straight, a couple of other phenomena occurred…the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of heavens

were opened.

 

Noah and his family escaped on the ark as God began to judge the earth through the flood.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 7:11-12

 

God’s Word says, “

the windows of heaven opened and the rain fell upon the earth…” Can you even begin to imagine the downpour of rain that lasted forty days and forty nights? In the past week or so, we’ve seen rain move through our area and it hasn’t been just piddly rain; it has been a deluge of rain as that fell very hard and very fast. When I think of the windows of heaven opening up and rain falling upon the earth as it did in Genesis 7, that’s what I imagine. What about you? But did you know there is only one other time the phrase “the windows of heaven opened…”

is mentioned in the Bible?

10 “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Malachi 3:10

 

This other time the phrase “

open the windows of heaven…” is used is NOT in connection with judgment, but in direct connection to God’s blessing; a blessing so large that every need would be and will be met. This promise of blessing is given in the context of tithing. The Lord of Host, Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת, was the name of the Lord we studied last week. It reminds us that the Lord has all the resources and abilities to overcome circumstances. The people of Israel needed to see the Lord clearly as Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, so they would respond in worship by bringing their tithe to the Lord of Hosts. When you see the Lord clearly as Lord of Hosts, you will respond in worshipful bringing of your tithes to Him. Read this verse in its context…

6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. 13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”

 

In last week’s study of Malachi 1:6-14, God chastised the people of Israel for offering lame and blind animals in sacrifice to Him rather than giving Him their best animals. Fast forward that truth, and from God’s perspective you are instructed to give God

excellence in your worship and not your leftovers. The Lord rebuked them for NOT giving Him His tithe and keeping the best for themselves and giving God leftovers “You are robbing me

.” Wow! What strong words!

 

Have you ever been accused of stealing something? To steal something means that you take a possession that belongs to someone else and that’s exactly what the people of Israel were doing…stealing. By not tithing, they were taking a possession that belonged to someone else, in this case, to the Lord of Hosts. (

He has all resources as Lord of Hosts so you don’t bring it to Him because He needs it; you bring it to Him because you recognize He has given it to you in the first place

.) The tithe belongs to the Lord….

30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”

Leviticus 27:30

 

The tithe was the top 10% of the Lord’s provision for the people whether it was crops from the field, seeds, fruit or animals. In Proverbs 3:10

, God’s people were instructed to honor Him with their wealth and “the FIRST FRUITS of all your produce

.” The first fruits were the most excellent portions of their land and animals and the tithe was to be the first and best, right off the top.

 

MONDAY: From God’s Perspective Tithing Is Bringing To God What Rightfully Belongs To Him—The Most Excellent Portions Of His Provision For You.

When you withhold the tithe from God, you are robbing Him of what rightfully belongs to Him. In essence, by not tithing you are stealing from God. Hey, I didn’t write this stuff, I just work here.

 

Look, God doesn’t NEED your tithe; He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills—although in truth, He frequently delivers them one hamburger at a time. Perhaps you can impact that by trusting Him when He says failure to do so is highway robbery.

 

Look At It Another Way, By NOT Tithing, You Are Not Only Stealing From God, But You Are Robbing Yourself V. 10.

 

Have you ever stolen from yourself? God’s Word says that by NOT tithing, you are stealing from yourself. Go back to verse 10. The Lord told the people to bring the full tithe, not 5% or 9% but the full 10% to Him,

10 And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven FOR YOU and pour down blessing until there is no more need

.” Malachi 3:10

 

The main emphasis of this passage is the blessing of God poured out on His people; on you and me when we tithe.

O.S. Hawkins, who is president of GuideStone Financial Resources

which serves 250,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 30 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation. About this this passage, he says:

“The whole emphasis of the Word of God is not on our giving as much as it is on His opening the windows of heaven to pour us out a blessing so that there would not be room enough to receive. God wants to bless us far more than we want a blessing. The tithe is a starting place in getting God into action in the affairs of men.”[i]

 

You see by NOT tithing you rob yourself of…

 

God’s provision v. 10.

A lot of times it’s easy to think,

If I give 10% at the beginning of the month, then I won’t make it. I’ll have more month left at the end of the money

. But God’s Word clearly says here that by NOT tithing you are robbing yourself of God’s provision to meet your need and you won’t make it. However, since the promise of God is that if you will trust Him by tithing, He will supernaturally bless with more than enough to meet your monthly needs. By NOT tithing you also rob yourself of…

 

God’s Protection v. 11.

11“I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”

 

The Lord of Hosts,

Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, who has all the heavenly resources to meet our needs will protect what you have left so that His abundant provision comes from what you have left. You see, God’s abundant provision from the windows of Heaven doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery, but He will provide abundantly from what you have left over after tithing. Notice this; If you give God your left overs you won’t have enough from the leftovers to make it. However, if you bring to God the most excellent tithe, He will provide for you abundantly from the leftovers. He’ll protect what you have left.

Warren Weirsbe

American pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works wrote,

the money that rightfully belongs to God that we keep for ourselves never stays with us. It ends up going to the doctor, the auto body shop or the tax collector.”[ii]

 

 

Scripture corroborates this statement. Haggai was dealing with the ancestral fathers of these people and stated that not tithing was:

6From the days of your fathers… 7 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes

. Malachi 1:6-7

 

You rob yourself of God’s protection and of His provision when you don’t tithe. But that’s not all;

by NOT tithing, you are not only stealing from God and stealing from yourself, you are stealing from others v. 12.

The Lord of Hosts will bless so powerfully if you obey,

12 Then all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of Hosts.

 

The Lord’s abundant blessing upon His people would be then and will be now a living testimony to the world that He is the Lord of Hosts and the true God. If God’s people today, followers of Jesus Christ, will tithe then there will be more than enough resources to fund the Gospel ministry in our communities, our states, our nations and in the world. However, by not tithing, church budgets struggle, missionaries will have to come home, and we rob others of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at some applications.

 

Living the Word Applications: What can YOU do to a Worshipful Giver?

 

 

TUESDAY: Restoring Your Relationship With The Lord V. 7.

7“Return to ME and I will return to you says the Lord of Hosts.”

 

 

It only makes sense that you cannot be in a right relationship with someone from whom you are stealing. Right? The way you demonstrate that you are returning to the Lord is by tithing. As long as you are not tithing and stealing from God your relationship with the Lord will suffer. You will rob yourself of the sense of presence in your life—His closeness, and the experience of His provision and protection. Take some extra time today to review your practices of bringing some of what you are blessed to receive back to God. Are you at this minimum level of acceptable giving?

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Taking the Test…Tithing v. 10.

10put ME to the test, says the Lord of Hosts…”

 

 

This is the one place in Scripture where God’s people are told to test Him. The Lord wants us to test Him in this promise to “

open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing until there is no need

.” Understand that this is a step of faith for those who are tithing and those who are not tithing. If you are tithing, share with others how you have seen God’s provision in your life and continue to tithe. If you are not tithing, then God’s Word challenges you to test Him and then watch Him provide.
Mary Hunt is one of my all time favorites. I get a free blog from her everyday. It’s called “

Everyday Cheapskate

” and is a delightfully written pilgrimage to find better, cheaper, faster ways to get things done in your life. I love it.

 

She also is a huge proponent of the 10-10-80 rule you have heard me talk about before. Here is a 50+slide deck in a .pdf format:

http://www.debtproofliving.com/Portals/0/Articles/Web%20Desk/Crossroads_Odessa.pdf

It’s worth a browse. She also offers a

Debt-Proof Living

system that is worth a look. The wise counsel is that you must give away 10% of what you earn, save 10% of what you earn (not your 401k, but money you bring home) until you have an emergency fund equal to at least six months of your income and then learn to live on 80% of what you earn. It requires discipline of the highest order. I urge you to take a look. A part of what you earn is yours to keep.

 

The Gorgeous Redhead and I took this to heart some years ago and now are debt free. We don’t purchase anything we cannot pay for in the month the purchase is made. For us, living frugally is not a fad, it’s a lifestyle. I grew up with the mantra ‘

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

.’ It’s not a chore anymore to continue to do so and it enables us to keep on saving and giving.

 

Pastor Kevin made you this deal Sunday: Tithe this month and if you don’t make it, if you don’t see God provide for you, then tell him and the church will refund your tithe back to you. This is an easy deal to make, because I believe in the promise of God so strongly. Are you in?

 

 

THURSDAY: Moving Beyond The Test…Offerings V. 8.

This robbing of God was also mentioned in conjunction with offerings. The tithing was to be the beginning point for God’s people and they were move beyond that to offerings. An offering is over and above the tithe and is another step of faith in trusting the Lord for His provision. Maybe the next step of faith for you is moving to giving above your tithe. Will you do that? Will you trust God to provide?

 

I find it interesting that once you move into New Testament, the Apostle Paul adds another wrinkle about giving.

2 Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay aside in store as God hath prospered him, so that there need be no gatherings when I come.

I Corinthians 16:2

 

8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

II Corinthians 9:8

 

In the first letter to the church at Corinth, God suggested through Paul that perhaps the tithe was the minimum standard in proportionate giving and if and as God prospers you more, you will be motivated to give more.

 

It seems that God wanted the New Testament believers to KNOW that they could give generously and still have plenty left over for everything else.

 

FRIDAY: Changing Your Perspective On Tithing…Bringing V. 10.

10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse…” This could literally translated, “You bring

…”

 

I find it interesting that God doesn’t say, “

Give your tithe” because most often it is described as “give.” “Bring

carries a different connotation. Bringing points toward returning to the Owner of all things, the Lord of Hosts, what is rightfully His. It isn’t giving but repaying. You can bring it with your checkbook or cash or even on your phone with automatic withdrawal. I think one of the challenges of automatic withdrawal is that it happens without ever thinking about it. However, while the people were bringing their tithes they were mindful of God’s blessing to them. Practically, if you are set up with automatic withdrawal, then each month as you look at your bank account, find that tithe withdrawal and spend a few moments worshiping God for His provision for you. Bringing was a personal act of worship where the worshiper was bringing to the Lord in reflection of the Lord’s provision.

From God’s perspective, tithing is a personal act of worship coming from a heart that acknowledges God’s provision in your life.

 

Some of you know who Craig Groeschel is. He’s senior pastor of

LifeChurch with HQ in Edmond, OK. That church meets in about 30 locations around the country and globally online. He’s a dynamic communicator. One of his series dovetails with this week’s study. It’s a 4 part series and I urge you strongly to take time to gather your family around and watch this archived series entitled Making Change

. Life Church makes these archived messages available free of charge to anyone who wants them. You will find the message video, sermon outline, copy of the transcript and a discussion guide for follow up. The titles of the presentations are:
  • Less is More
  • Stress is Bad
  • Giving is Good
  • Tomorrow Matters

https://open.life.church/resources/2749-making-change

 

Barb and I have watched this series and it’s dynamite. We encourage you to do the same this week as you ponder the calls to action for generous giving. We’d l love to hear from you if you do this.

[i] Hawkins, O.S. Money Talks.

Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999. 44-45.

[ii] Weirsbe, Warren. Be Amazed.

Victor Books, 1996. 160.

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Worship From God’s Perspective: “Worship What We Know”

Worship From God’s Perspective:

“Worship What We Know”

John 4:19-22

July 17-21, 2017

 
When my little sister passed away a month and a half ago, the back page of her Memorial Service program had this cartoon. It was a testimonial to the way she lived here last days. She made the most of every day she had left.

 

In her last days, the meaning of life for her was captured in these words:

I will be present

I will not be afraid

I will love all who walk through my adventure

I will not die mad or sad

 
From jokes to cartoons, the clear truth of the question remains a concern for all of us.

What is the meaning of Life?

Most people look in all the wrong places and start with the wrong assumptions. The pursuit of an answer for unbelievers generally starts with a wrong premise. God never intended for the meaning of life to be an obscure search or an esoteric journey. He was plain as day about what life means and He wants you to both find it and live your life to the fullest in it. That’s what we will explore this week.

 

Perhaps we can take another page from that great philosopher, Charles Schulz. Snoopy gets it.

Life is like an ice-cream cone; you have to lick it one day at a time. In the meantime as you look in plain sight for the answer to the age-old question of The Meaning of Life

, you can start with Woodstock and Snoopy and “Keep Looking Up.”

 

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not so much about the Meaning of Life as it is What is the Meaning of

YOUR

life. Let’s go see.

 

MONDAY: “What Is My Purpose In Life?”

The answer to that question, if answered correctly, will set the course of life for you.

 

So what is the answer?

Knowing God

.

 

Your purpose in life and the purpose of every person who has ever lived or will live is to

know God. God made YOU in His image so that you CAN

know Him. All humans are relational creatures and the most important relationship you can have is found in knowing God. That sets the tone for all the other relationships you ever will have. Listen up.

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and KNOWS ME…”

Jeremiah 9:23–24

 

3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent

. John 17:3

 

The apostle Paul understood this truth as well when he was willing to sacrifice everything to pursue that solitary purpose.

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Philippians 3:8 & 10

 

One of our ministry values here at FBC Celina is helping you fulfill that purpose in your life as a member of this church body and as an individual. The basis for that is in the Scriptures you just read from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

 

Our ministry value of

Passion states: We will passionately pursue knowing the Lord.

 

Over the rest of this week, let’s unpack that thought.

 

TUESDAY: How Are You Doing In Fulfilling Your Purpose In Life?

The measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God.

 

 

The more you know God, the more you will worship Him. Jesus said as much in John’s Gospel

. The title of this week’s study is “Worship What We Know”.

 

 

In this passage, Jesus was traveling through Samaria and stopped in the town of Sychar because He was thirsty. He found a rest area near Jacob’s well where He could get a drink and began a conversation with a Samaritan woman. In the midst of that conversation, the woman began to change the topic of conversation because she was uncomfortable with Jesus’ knowledge of her personal life. She directed the conversation to the topic of worship and this is where you can begin to listen in…

19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

John 4:19-23

 

Lock in on verse 22, “

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Jesus said, “Worship is what we know

…” The reason they worshipped what they knew was, “salvation is from the Jews.” God in His infinite wisdom entrusted the truth about the meaning of life to His chosen people, the Israelites. The difference between the Jews and Samaritans was what was known and what was NOT known.

 

There was a major point of contention between Jews and Samaritans emphasized in verse 20…

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship

.”

 

Notice how the woman began to deflect the conversation? First of all, Jews did not talk to Samaritans and Jewish men did not talk to Samaritan women, period.

The Samaritans accepted only the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, in the Old Testament and they chose Mount Gerizim as their place of worship. Mount Gerizim was significant because in the neighboring area Abraham built his first altar to worship God.[i] Whereas, the Jews accepted the entire Old Testament and recognized that God himself had chosen Jerusalem as His selected place of worship. That was significant because in rejecting the remainder of the Old Testament, the Samaritans lacked the revelation that salvation was from the Jews…Jesus as the Messiah

. So much of the Old Testament they rejected, pointed to the truth that salvation would come first to the Jews and then to other people.

 

You cannot worship what you do not know because true worship is in what you know…God, our heavenly Father.

 

Worship begins with knowing that salvation is from the Jews in and through the sacrificial life and death and resurrection of

Yeshua Hamashiach – Jesus, the Christ. Knowing the Father begins with knowing that salvation is from the Jews in Yeshua Hamashiach,

crucified for your sins and resurrected to give you the possibility of eternal life. This is what Jesus meant when He said,

3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3

 

6 I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

 

Knowing God the Father must start at the beginning with a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. It was God who sacrificed the first animals to cover up the nakedness of Adam and Eve’s sin as forgiveness that they might continue to know Him once their innocence followed their Fall in sin.

 

One of the differences between Cain’s and Abel’s sacrifices in Genesis 4 was Abel’s blood sacrifice of his first lambs. A.W. Tozer notes, “

Cain’s worship was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man. Cain casually assumed that he was deserving of acceptance by the Lord without an intermediary.”[ii]

Whereas, Abel knew the character of God and the need for a blood sacrifice to forgive his sin.

 

In our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, there is a vivid visual reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us that we might

know the Father and truly worship Him. The bread reminds you of His body given for you and the juice of the cup reminds you of His blood shed for the forgiveness of sins that you might know Him. It is through faith in Christ’s sacrifice that you fulfill your purpose…knowing God

.

 

We worship what we know. How are you doing in knowing God? I challenge you to grow in knowing God because the measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God. Let’s look at some applications.

Worship is….

 

WEDNESDAY: Personally Knowing Him…Walking With Him.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27

 

One of the basics of a relationship with Jesus Christ is “

hearing

” His voice and walking with Him on a daily basis. You can hear His voice through prayer and you can hear His voice through His Word and then walk with Him daily as He has spoken to you.

 

Can you recall what it was like that very first time you fell in love? How old were you, 12, 14, 16…? You could not wait to be in each other’s presence. You hung on every word. You could talk on the phone way into the night. You lived for the next time you could hold hands? You had this giddy sense of euphoria all the time. Remember?

 

Your daily devotions don’t end when you say “Amen” but they continue as you walk with Him into your day. Your deepest desires are to be close to Him all day, to hang on His every word, to find ways to please Him. I challenge you to spend the remainder of the year reading through the Gospels. I am particularly partial to the

Tyndale House Chronological Bible

that puts the life and times of Jesus in a chronology that is easy to follow.

https://www.amazon.com/Chronological-Life-Application-Study-Bible-ebook/dp/B007V69GTM/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499800290&sr=1-6&keywords=chronological+bible+tyndale+house

 

As you read, look for our Shepherd’s every movement. Reflect on His interactions with people. Listen to His voice and walk with Him into your day. J.I. Packer wrote, “

The Jesus who walks through the gospel story walks with Christians now, and knowing Him involves going with Him now as then.[iii]

 

 

THURSDAY: Personally Knowing Him…Commitment.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14-15

 

Back to the memory of that first love. You made promises to each other to love each other until the end of time. You could not imagine not being together…ever.

 

To really know someone, you must commit yourself to spending time together and knowing their character, knowing their hearts, and knowing their concerns. You must commit yourself to knowing God’s character, knowing God’s heart, and knowing God’s concerns. But it also means you must commit yourself to being open enough to BE known. Jesus knows you. He knows every flaw and failure. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you in spite of that knowledge, just the way you are. But committing yourself to knowing Him means letting Him change what He knows about you.

 

What are the character flaws in you right now that Jesus needs to change? This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a starting point to identify and then lay up before Jesus the flaws you would like for Him to change in you.

https://writerswrite.co.za/123-ideas-for-character-flaws/

 

Commit to letting Him change you. Just as in a 12-step program, the first step involves admitting that you are powerless to change character flaws on your own. The next steps have utility for each of us on a recurring basis:

 

  • Come to believe that God wants to heal your flaws.
  • Make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God.
  • Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.
  • Admit to God, to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
  • Become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove your shortcomings.

 

To cooperate with Him in the process will be transformative. You can do this!

 

FRIDAY: Personally Knowing Him…NOT Just About Him v. 22.

The Samaritans knew a lot ABOUT God but they didn’t really know Him because so much of His character had been revealed in the areas of the Old Testament they rejected. Can you imagine not having the beautiful poetry of the Psalms or the wisdom of Solomon or the graphic examples of the consequences of disobedience in the books of history and prophecy or the Scarlet thread running through it all pointing to Jesus?

 

I can know a lot about our president by reading articles about him, searching the Internet and studying his family history, but I still don’t

know him. You can come to Sunday School, study the Bible, and learn new facts about God without knowing Him. Knowledge about God makes you arrogant so that you can demonstrate your knowledge about Him to others and make yourself appear more intelligent. Do you remember when I told you about the Temple Cult Heresy? The Jews became arrogant because they had the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant and they thought they were bullet-proof. Nobody could hurt them because they had Superman

on their side. Even then, it was not about the Temple or the Ark or their belief that God would protect them no matter what. They lost sight of the fact that their reliance on what they knew ABOUT God did not equate with KNOWING Him. It was a costly mistake. God showed them repeatedly that the trappings of their faith were not enough. He demanded they KNOW HIM.

 

There must be a transfer of knowledge about God from your head to your heart. When that takes place, you will bow your heart in worship to Him because you

know Him. Do you know more about God than you know Him? Are the facts you know about Him being transferred from your head to your heart? There’s one indicator that shows that it’s happening…worship

. The more you know Him, the more you worship Him because you worship what you know.

 

Remember I said earlier, the measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God. How do you measure up? Think on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being not passionate and 10 a burning passion.

 

How passionate are you in your desire to know God?

[i] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: John 1-11.

Moody Publihsers, 2006. Location 296 in Kindle Fire.

[ii] Tozer, A.W. Whatever Happened to Worship.

Wingspread Publishers, revised in 2012. In Location 390 in Kindle Fire.

[iii] Packer, J.I. Knowing God.

InterVarsity Press, 1973. 38.

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How Big is Your Dream?

Jossy Chacko: “How Big is Your Dream?”

Matthew 25:14-30

July 10-14, 2017

 
Jossy Chacko is the Founder and President of
Empart, http://www.Empart.org a global ministry that exists to ignite holistic community transformation among the unreached and needy people of Asia. Empart’s primary goal is to see 100,000 communities transformed by 2030
.

 

Jossy left South India at the age of 17, with $20 in his pocket, a one way ticket to Australia and a big dream to become a business success. Life in Australia started in total disaster with no job, no money and no friends or family. Depressed and at the brink of suicide, Jossy had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Soon after, he became part of a small logistics company that later grew to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

 

Busy climbing the business ladder and chasing success, Jossy’s plan was for early retirement on a hobby farm. This dream was changed forever by an encounter with an eight year old homeless boy while honeymooning in North India with his Australian wife, Jenni. Jenni had insisted that they go to India and see the

Taj Mahal. This encounter was the catalyst for Jossy to begin developing some deep, life-changing convictions: “The only reason for any Christian to exist is to fulfill the Great Commission” and “The greatest injustice in the world is while some people can choose to hear about Jesus anytime, others can’t – even if they want to.” His experiences and convictions culminated in the establishment of Empartin 1998.

 

Jossy’s book,

Madness!, describes this and other critical encounters in his journey – from being a ridiculed boy, with a mentally ill Dad, to becoming a financial success and then surrendering it all for the cause of the poor and lost. The book is available in paperback and audio formats at www.Empart.org

 

Under Jossy’s visionary leadership,

Empart grew from the spare bedroom of the Chacko’s home to become a prolific and leading community transformation movement, bringing both spiritual and social transformation to lives and communities. Empart’s community transformation initiatives now impact about 6,500,000 people each month. With more than 6,500 full-time workers and offices in seven countries, Empart

is well positioned, and on track, to achieve its objectives.

 

Jossy’s conviction that “none should perish” compels him to many nations, inspiring business and spiritual leaders to capture a God-vision. Over the years he has invested into significant leaders with great results, particularly across Europe and Asia. He also serves on the board of several business and non-profit organizations.

 

Jossy is a gifted communicator – his story telling abilities, combined with insight and humor, serves to challenge, inspire, confront and convict the listeners. God’s favor is evident in his life and ministry and doors continue to open for him with political, business and religious leaders around the world

Jossy and Jenni do not receive a salary from

Empart

, choosing to joyfully serve the Lord by faith, knowing God will provide all their needs. They live in Melbourne, Australia, with their four children and two dogs.

 

Hilary Hinton

“Zig” Ziglar

captured this thought from Oliver Wendell Holmes and used it many times in his motivational messages and writings.

 

This thought came to mind as I listened to Jossy yesterday. All too many of us get settled into dreams that we then build the world around.

 

 

MONDAY: Jossy Moved Us To Take A New Look At The Last Parable Jesus Left His Disciples Before The End Of His Earthly Life.

 

Parable of the Three Servants and Bags of Gold

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of gold began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of gold also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of gold came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of gold to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of gold came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of gold to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:14-30 NLT

 

The first two servants proved trustworthy for more. Each of them had been trusted with something and so have YOU. How can you know if you can be trusted with more?

 

The operative question for this week is “

Where is Your Talent?” And the second is “What are you going with it?

” You simply have to multiply what you have been given, and when you do, God will give you more.

 

The third servant buried his talent and sadly was never heard of again once the Master returned.

 

Multiplication of your talents has its roots in many Old Testament and New Testament characters. Adam was admonished to “

Be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth.” Abraham was promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The Apostles were instructed to “Go into all nations and make disciples

.”

 

By extension, YOU are commanded to multiply as well. What will your legacy be? It will all be about what you did with what you have been given.

 

A popular iteration of that is found in the

Prayer of Jabez,

Bruce Wilkinson’s little book of the same name.

 

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’ So God granted him what he requested.”

 

So, how are you going to

Expand Your Legacy

?

 

TUESDAY: Enlarge Your Vision

 
What has God placed in your heart?

 

For Barb and me it’s all about helping create and sustain healthy Godly marriages and families. At one time we had hoped to have a benefactor that would enable us to change the way we practice ‘family’ in our nation within just a generation.

God did not honor that part of our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) dream, so we decided we’d do what we could one family at a time. So we started with plans and content to create our Marriage 3.0 intensive weekend ministry that we conduct here in Celina. We formed

www.24kgoldmarriage.org

and began writing our 24kNUGGET blogs a couple times a month. We offer churches training to establish marriage educator and coaching ministries to enhance their marriage counseling ministries.

 

We’ll keep on doing that as long as God gives us strength and resources, but we keep our eyes open for other ways God may enlarge our vision. Perhaps a ministry to ministerial families who have had life-upsetting experiences like

SonScape

or maybe teaching university students about how to create healthy relationships or even teaching basic life skills to high school students.

 

We’re asking God to make it abundantly clear to us.

 

Let me warn you, however, that there will be those around you what Jossy called ‘

Vision Poppers’

who are quick to point out why your big visions won’t work. The Monday morning quarterbacks will always second guess you and try to drag you down. When you see them coming, run like mad the other way. Let no one steal your vision or your joy.
I’m reminded of the great example Nehemiah. Here it is in a children’s story. [

Parenthetically, an old friend of mine…now long gone to glory…T. D. McCullough was a missionary to the San Andreas Islands in the southern Caribbean where the education of the indigenous people was about the 6th grade. He said he had to learn to preach with 6th grade vocabulary. He noticed when he got back on furlough to the States that he continued to preach that way and nobody misunderstood him.] http://bibleforchildren.org/PDFs/english/The_Great_Wall_of_Nehemiah_English.pdf

 

What is your vision? Do you have a ‘mind to work’? FOCUS!

 

WEDNESDAY: Empower People Around You

Back to our story of the bags of gold with which we started the week. The rich man gave out his riches according to his assessment of his workers and then he left on a trip. He didn’t give them any instructions, he just took a chance that if he empowered his men to get the job done, they would.

 

My personal preference in hiring people focused on a few essentials:

  • I always told prospects that while they were in our employ, I wanted all their attention, but if they should find someone who could take better care of them than we could, they should go. Regardless of when that occurred, I wanted our people to want to be with us.
  • I asked this question that made the HR people cringe, but it went to character and that was a priority for me. “If I ask you about your vocation, I will know how you have made your living, but if I ask you about your avocation, I will know what you are passionate about.” So, what is your avocation?” Character was more important to me than skill.
  • I am also a big proponent of MBWA (management by walking around) where relationships were developed. I always cared about what was happening in the lives of those who worked with us. Work-life balance can only be achieved if employees have freedom to attend school functions with their children, to be absent for medical emergencies in their families, to attend special occasions, in short to Do Life. When they were sick or had family in the hospital, I was there. I earned the right to perform marriages and coach troubled marriages for some who worked with us. Relationships were everything.
  • And yet, right outcomes were not compromised. We set up right systems and streamlined key performance indicators and maximized our efforts to achieve the highest results possible.

 

THURSDAY: Embrace Risk

The rich man decided to take a risk in giving his bags of gold to his employees without telling them what to do with them. The underlying message of this parable is that it is impossible to please God without taking some risk.

 

It is so easy to drift from being a pioneer to becoming a preservationist. It is a subtle paradigm shift that is deadly to organizations and visions.

 

Here is the key to keeping that shift from occurring to you:

  • See Risk as your Friend to love and not an Enemy to fear
  • Don’t let the fear of losing what you have rob you of the joy of successfully achieving what God has given you vision to accomplish
  • Recognize that comfort, safety and risk cannot co-exist. Ask yourself, even rhetorically, ‘who is missing out because YOU are not taking the next steps into the unknown…taking risks.’
  • If you just have to figure everything out before you risk you’ll miss the heavenly possibilities (think what might have happened if our government wasn’t busy playing CYA during the run up to 9/11 and there was more risk taken to prevent the attack than worrying about protecting agency turf). Sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way. Don’t let that be YOU.
  • Increase your threshold of pain
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Make a decision day commitment. On your mark, Set…GO
  • I promise you that you won’t get to heaven looking back over your shoulder saying, “Oh, if only…?

 

FRIDAY: Take Action Today

If you intend to make sure you do not die with your music still in you, regardless of what quarter of your life you are in, here are some practical things you can do to ensure that your God-given talents have been multiplied time over before you slip into eternity. They take extreme courage. Will you do this today?

  • Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of all your dreams that have not yet been accomplished in your life. State them as ACTIONs to be done.
  • List them in priority order and then set time frames for their accomplishment, including personnel and financial resources necessary for that to be done.
  • Select a person with whom you can scrupulously and consistently report your progress and invite him or her to hold you accountable for the outcomes.
  • Start

 

Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out shouting, “WOW, what a ride!”

 

Only one life, t’will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

What is your dream?

Jerry Del Colliano in his blog Day Starters offers this closing thought:

  • Being the top-biller or receiving the most awards does not make you better than anyone else.
  • Fred Smith who founded FedEx had his idea rejected in economics class at Yale by earning a less than stellar C.
  • Malcolm Gladwell couldn’t get into grad school and now grad schools are reading him.
  • Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were either high school or college dropouts.
  • Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to pursue Facebook which he started in his dorm room.

Being good enough is not about the past but pursuing your dreams – relentlessly if possible.

No one gets to grade you because in the end only you and God can decide what success is.

And there is no time limit on your next success.

  • Believe it.
  • See it vividly in your mind’s eye.
  • Achieve it.

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Ministry Values: “Passion- Worship from God’s Perspective”

Ministry Values – “Passion – Worship from God’s Perspective”

Amos 5:21-24

July 3-7, 2017

 
 
I either want not to offend anybody or else to be an equal opportunity offender when it comes to talking about worship.

 

There are as many misconceptions about worship as there are people who purport to do it.

 

Jokes abound. For example:

The little boy who asked his Mom about the plaque in the foyer with names of military personnel who had given their lives. His Mom said they were people who had died in the service. His response was, “The morning service or the evening service?”

 

When it comes to worship styles, my doxy is orthodox and your doxy is heterodox. Styles of worship attract and styles of worship repel.

  • I just can’t stand that 7-11 music, you know…seven words repeated eleven times
  • I just love 4-3-2-1 contemporary Christian music…four words, three chords, two stanzas, (wash rinse, repeat)
  • Those time honored traditional hymns of the faith really speak to me
  • Whatever happened to those Gospel songs our parents used to sing
  • Man oh man, if only I could find someplace where Southern Gospel is the style, I’d go there.
  • So much of what passes for worship today fails to capture the dignity and awesomeness of the Gregorian chants and high church liturgy
  • The preacher is just too loud. Wish he wouldn’t yell.
  • The preacher is too long-winded
  • I have a hearing loss and the preacher preaches in tones I can’t understand and the church doesn’t have hearing impaired resources
  • Ad infinitim – ad nauseum

 

When you stop and take a thoughtful look at the word “worship”, what comes to YOUR mind? Each of you in yesterday’s service has something different in mind. It’s safe to say that you have your own idea about what worship is, what worship is not or what makes a great worship service. You get your opinion on worship from your past experiences and are often motivated to recreating or trying to find a replica of past experience in the present or else it’s not really worship for you. With so many thoughts and opinions for worship, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of worship and to lose sight of the ONE who cast the deciding vote on true worship… God. I believe it’s important for us to look at worship from His point of view because there are several times through the pages of Bible where God’s people thought they were worshiping and He steps in and says, “You’ve got this all wrong.” To me one of the most powerful of all those times is found in the Old Testament book of Amos.

 

Would you believe that true worship has nothing at all to do with:

  • Music style
  • Musical instruments
  • Setting
  • Preacher
  • Sermon content
  • Sermon length
  • Lighting
  • Comfort of the pews
  • Or anything else…

 

Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BC during the reign of Jeroboam II, (788–747 BC) making the Book of Amos the first
biblical prophetic book written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah but preached in the northern kingdom of Israel. At this particular time, the Northern Kingdom was enjoying a great deal of prosperity, however sinfulness permeated their lives through idolatry and through unjust treatment of others. There was a great divide between the rich and the poor and the rich were oppressing and abusing those less fortunate. While all this was going on, the people continued to gather for sacrifice and the annual feasts that God called them to observe in honor of His magnificent works among His people.

 

In years gone by, I was Executive Pastor for First Baptist Church, Shawnee, OK. As I read through the history of that old church, I found they were incorporated in Shawnee, IT (Indian Territory) before OK became a State. One sad but intriguing part of the history was that on Sundays, several men would get up from their seats just before the time of the offering and leave the building. As the offering was being received, Klansmen would come in dressed in their sheets and hoods and put their offering on the Communion Table, march back out and then these same men who had left would return. The hypocrisy was not lost on me then any more than it was lost on Amos in his day. Listen to the words of Amos…

21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 5:21-24

 

Notice the intensity of the words that the Lord uses in verse 21,

“I hate” “I despise”. They describe a complete rejection of the people even when they were observing the letter of the law about the feasts to honor God. The phrase, “take not delight” is actually one word that meant to smell, and I don’t mean like Old Spice. It was an expression of satisfaction when God smelled a burning sacrifice offered in the right spirit. However in this case it is reference to the people and the Lord is saying, “You even gathering together is a foul smell to Me.

Finally, look at the command of verse 23, “

Take away from me the noise of your songs…” This particular phrase is in a tense that translates, “you cause to take away from Me the noise of your songs, it’s all your fault.” I’m not going to get rid of the noise of your songs, you get rid of it. The Lord called their singing NOISE

!

 

While I can’t really relate to offering sacrifices as a part of worship, I can relate to singing. One of the things that I think of the most in worship is singing. But, the Lord said their singing was noise and He didn’t even consider it worship. Why do you suppose that was?

 

Could it have been because of the sin of their lives? Only when they “

let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

” would they truly begin to worship.

 

Before they could truly worship Him in sacrifice and song, they had to practice righteousness in their dealings with other people. If you think that because you have showed up and sung some songs that you have worshiped, but then lived during the week to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life…then from the Lord’s perspective He’s saying, “

Stop the NOISE, it ain’t worship

!”
 

 

TUESDAY: Worship Is Not An Event, But A Life Of Obedience To God.

 

You simply cannot live ever which way you want during the week and expect God to approve what you show up and do on Sunday. What’s the old adage? Sow your wild oats on Saturday and show up in church on Sunday and pray for crop failure. From God’s point of view, how you live your life on a regular basis has a direct impact on His judgment about your approach to worship. On Sunday, He may very well be saying, “Stop the NOISE!”

 

Unless you and you alone get your act together, no amount of singing or lifting your hands or saying “Amen” or thumbing through your Bible or taking notes can be construed as worship.

 

From God’s vantage point, He has given us insight into the true nature of worship by the words He has used in The BOOK for “

worship.” In the Old Testament, the most commonly used word for worship meant a bowing down and referred to “the way in which an Israelite fittingly thought of his approach to the holy presence of God.”[i]

Here are two instances of this word

3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 7:3

 

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness

. Psalm 29:2

 

In the NT, there is a word used that carries the same overtone in meaning

10 The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,” 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created

. Revelation 4:10-11

 

Big Point. Pay close attention. The position of your body and the declaration of your mouth reflect the condition of your heart in response to God.

Worship then is a response to God that begins in your heart and is reflected through your body and your mouth.

 

It doesn’t matter if you like the music style or the décor in the worship center or the message being preached. None of that controls whether or not YOU worship. You have an obligation before God to do worship. Your failure to worship is on you and you alone. It’s about your personal and direct link to God through Jesus Christ. If you allow any of the trappings of corporate settings for ‘worship’ to impact your worship…that’s on YOU.

 

 

There is a second Old Testament term that was used for worship.

This second term is often translated “service” and the root meaning of this word is that of a slave or servant. However, the connotation of this word is NOT negative but rather of a “relationship of a servant and kindly master.”[ii] David was called a servant of God in Psalm 89 and his relationship with the Lord lead to joyous praise. There is a corresponding New Testament word latreia λατρεία that means service

.

3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…”

Philippians 3:3

 

WEDNESDAY: Worship Then Is A Response Of Serving God That Flows Out Of Your Relationship With God Through Jesus Christ.

 

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1

 

However, just like every Infomercial ever made…

And Another Thing…there is another truth for you to gather from the use of this Old Testament and New Testament word λατρεία

. Remember last week when we went back to our recent study of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi? Philippians 2:5-8.

 

We discovered that an aspect of God’s character in Jesus was that of a

servant. Jesus was the outward expression of the inmost character of God and at its heart, He was a servant. Did you get that God wants to morph the character of a servant within you? As God morphs the character of serving within us, He is morphing the character of a worshipper.

The same kind of metamorphosis that occurs when the caterpillar morphs into a morth or a butterfly needs to occur in you. The more you invite God to morph in you the character of a servant that is reflective of Jesus, the more He is morphing the character of a worshipper in you. Let’s look at some applications.

 

So how can you open up your life for God to do His marvelous work of Metamorphosis turning your character to that of a worshipper by letting justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Here are some ways you can do just that:
 

 

THURSDAY: By Bowing To God In Your Moments During The Week – Luke 4:5-8.

 

Satan was tempting Jesus a second time.

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ”

 

Make no mistake about it, this temptation has everything to do with being tempted to misplace worship from God to Satan. I want you to notice Jesus was tempted with the power and pleasures of the kingdoms of this world. Next I want you to be sure to notice that Satan tempted Him “in a moment of time…” Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve” in every

moment. This is a statement of exclusive priority. Each moment during the week is a moment to worship God as your priority. It is in your moments that Satan creeps in to tempt you with the allurements of this world and while he is doing it is looking for subtle ways to pull you away in that moment from worshipping and serving God. Even while you are in the place where have set aside a place for corporate worship, he can tempt your mind away from this moment for God.

 

Here’s how it can happen:

You are at the office working away and then the temptation comes to take a financial short cut that you know is wrong but will pay off quicker than doing things honestly. In that moment, do you bow and worship Satan pursuing the short cut or do you bow and worship God by doing things honestly? It plays out in thousands of moments like that throughout your daily life. Jesus wouldn’t even give Satan a single moment of worship because it would have pulled Him away from His ultimate act of worship…dying on the cross. The more moments you give to God during the week, the more true worship will overflow into your ultimate act of worship on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and…

 

A humble man who has given us a great example of what it means to give God your moments is a man simply called

Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman in Hériménil, near Lunéville in the region of Lorraine, located in modern-day eastern France

. As a young man, Herman’s poverty forced him into joining the army, which guaranteed him meals and a small stipend. During this period, Herman claimed an experience that set him on a unique spiritual journey.

 

He fought in the

Thirty Years’ War and following an injury, left the army and served as a valet. After some time, he joined a Priory in Paris

.

 

Nicolas entered the priory in Paris as a

lay brother, not having the education necessary to become a cleric, and took the religious name, “Lawrence of the Resurrection“. He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for most of his life and as a repairer of sandals in his later years. Despite his lowly position in life and the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God.

Father

Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, compiled this work after Brother Lawrence passed away. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with the likes of John Wesley and A. W. Tozer

recommending it to others.

 

His death in 1691 occurred in relative obscurity, but his teachings lived on in the compilation of his words. He wrote a series of letters that have been compiled into this book entitled, “

The Practice of the Presence of God.” He simply states that it all begins with remembering God is always present with you and you must try to stay in constant connection with Him. Find a copy of this book and read it. Let its simple applications teach you how to bow down to God in your moments. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002BH3NN6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

 

FRIDAY: Bowing Down To God…Focus On What You Can Give Not Receive

 
Him only shall you serve.” This word “serve” is our New Testament word for serving God out of our relationship with him. Serving then is worshipping God by giving to Him not in order to obtain something else. Too often I observe an attitude in worship that it’s what I can receive from it; what I can get out of it. But the focus should be on what you give to God. From God’s perspective, the character of a worshipper, worshipping out of your relationship with Him must be focused on what you can give to Him, not WIIFM….What’s In It For Me
.

 

Philippians 2:5-8 called us to the united mindset of Christ who taking the form of a servant humbled himself and became obedient to death on the cross. An aspect of this united mindset you are to have is the character of a worshipper who is more focused on what you can give to God than on what you may receive. Jesus’ entire life was focused on what He could give to God His Father. Is there anyone who was more of a worshipper of God than Jesus? No. I think not. Is there anyone who served God out of His relationship with His Father more than Jesus? No. Is there anyone who worshipped God out of obedience more than Jesus? No. And so in the end, He became obedient to death even death on the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice of worship that flowed from a life of obedience to God the Father. At the cross of Christ, justice flowed down like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream on your behalf that the character of a servant-worshipper might be morphed within you. Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice of worship, what He could give to God the Father more than He could receive. At the cross of Christ, justice flowed down like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream on your behalf that the character of a servant-worshipper might be morphed within us.

 

So, have you worshipped today?

 

Remember that your worship is not dependent upon how the singer sings or the preacher preaches or even where you are. It is all about having the bowed spirit and the heart for service that issues forth in praise, thanksgiving, evangelism and fellowship with other believers.

 

God help me to be as loving, caring and sensitive toward those you put in front of me today as You are and have been to me. Let me serve in Your Holy and Precious Name everyday until you come back to get me.

[i] Martin, Ralph P. Worship in the Early Church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974. 2nd

Edition. 11.

[ii]

Ibid, 12.

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